2007 October Woman: Fran Hilton-Smith

by | Oct 1, 2007


Anyone who
knows anything about women’s soccer in South Africa, knows Fran Hilton-Smith.
She has held so many positions in the 22 years she’s been involved with soccer,
it’s difficult to give her just one title, but for now she is team manager of
the national women’s soccer team, and she takes care of the U20 and U17 teams,

What is clear
is that she has been at the forefront of many major developments in the women’s
game and she continues to impact the game both locally and internationally.

The FIFA.com
website says of Fran: "The influence of Fran Hilton-Smith in establishing
equality for the women’s game in South Africa, cannot not be
underestimated. Hilton-Smith, a FIFA instructor and former Banyana Banyana
player, has served as a coach and team manager for over a decade and has been
an extremely influential individual for hundreds of players, including one
Portia Modise."

This feisty
former school teacher spent the month of September in China to write the technical report on all the Women’s World Cup matches
for FIFA. She often comes back from these international visits with many
resources to help South African women’s soccer improve its standard of play.

Fran is a
living example of her motto, "believe in yourself, never give up, and never
keep quiet". Her biggest wish is to qualify for the Olympics of the World Cup.

Away from
soccer, Fran is a music fanatic. She is part of a band called Basadi Women of
Jazz, and she admits to having a massive sound system in the back of her Golf

In 2010, she
hopes to enjoy the FIFA World Cup on the beach and one of her big ambitions is to ride a Harley Davidson across America.

gsport’s October Woman, soccer queen,
Fran Hilton Smith!

 Where do you live?

Germiston – my
whole life. Was a school teacher in High school for twenty years!

How long have you been involved in sports

Too long!
Probably since 85

Why are you so passionate about women’s soccer?

Because I was
a player and have seen how far it can take you

What are your current projects associated with women’s

Trying to
qualify for the Olympics, U20 and U17 World Cups next year.

Running the High
Performance Centre I started in Pretoria
4 years ago for U20 and U17 players. Looking for new players and trying to
develop the sport for girls at school. Doing stuff for FIFA and CAF as well, like
coaching coaches.

What is the main reason the women’s game is
struggling in South Africa?

professional league. No sponsorship. Not enough recognition. No school soccer.
Not enough clubs soccer.  All professional
teams should have a girls team


Tell us about your role with FIFA?

It varies. I
am a FIFA coaching instructor (men and women). One of only two in Africa-the
other is a man from Nigeria.
Travel around the world developing coaches in women’s football in developing
countries.  It has taken me to some amazing
places- Iran, Vanuatu, Trinidad and Tobago, Thailand to name a few. 

I also write the Technical report for FIFA on
the Women’s World Cups – U20 in Canada in 2002, Thailand 2004 and Russia
in 2006 (an amazing experience).  Senior
Women’s World Cups in USA in
2003 and now in China
in 2007. This position has made all my years of struggling in women’s soccer in
SA worthwhile! The pinnacle of any football person’s dreams!

What was the purpose of your recent trip to China?

To write the
Technical report on all the Women’s World Cup matches for FIFA. This is sent to
all the federations so they know what level they have to achieve.  A hard job and taxing but I have met so many
wonderful people especially top women coaches from around the world.

What has been some of your career highlights?

appointed by FIFA and CAF into high positions normally reserved for men!


How do you deal with challenges as a woman in sports

Believe in
yourself, never give up and never keep quiet!

Aside from soccer, what are your other favourite
spectator sports?

exciting.  I used to instruct in Karate
and played tennis so I like to watch them. 
The Boks!

Who are your favourite sports stars?

So many !!!!!
Marta of Brazil, 

How do you keep fit?

My hectic
schedule keeps me fit. Just had my knee replaced so am doing a lot of cycling


What are your hobbies?

Music! I have
a massive sound system in my Golf GTI, Sleeping!  I also enjoy riding my motorbike on weekends;
visiting with my parents and family, and being with my grandson Tyler. Doing

Tell us about your band

Basadi Women
of Jazz.  One of the best female bands
ever (my opinion)! Five women from Soweto
mainly and myself.  We play mainly African
jazz-some old standards that we revamped so people could dance to them.  We wer so hot we were selected to represent
Africa at a world music festival in London
a few years back.

Often older men from the townships would come up to me after
a gig and ask me to play a song again for them, especially when I was playing
bass guitar as they didn’t believe I was really playing! Had to stop playing as
my schedule now is too hectic for the intense practice sessions the band
requires.  When I am old I will go back!

gsport strives to celebrate femininity. How would you
define femininity?

Being powerful is like being a lady-if you have to tell people you
are-you aren’t!  I think femininity is

Not changing
who you are to succeed. Be yourself. My best thoughts on this are "educate a man
and you educate and individual, educate a women and you educate the whole


 What’s the best thing about being a woman?


 What inspires you?

My parents.
Mandela – he said "a good head and a good heart are always a formidable
combination". Meeting Mandela last year was a highlight of my life

Who are some of the women who you admire?

My mother,
Oprah. Margaret Thatcher- she said" I am extraordinarily patient-provided I get
my own way in the end"

What is your biggest wish for women’s soccer in South Africa?

To qualify
for a World Cup or Olympics. To have a professional league. More competitions

What would you like to be doing in 2010?

Enjoying the
world cup on the beach

Your greatest ambition?

Have achieved
most of them. To be happy and healthy. To drive a Harley across America.
For my dear Banyana team to qualify for a World Cup!!


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