'I Had To Fight To Get Into Coaching'

Women’s football in South Africa has seen major breakthroughs in recent years, most recently with Banyana Banyana making their World Cup debut in France, but the road to glory has been treacherous.

Former Technical Director of Women's Football at the South African Football Association (SAFA) Fran Hilton-Smith has been the champion of the Women’s game for decades. She spoke to SL Radio about how she had to struggle to get into coaching and earn her coaching qualifications;

“When my playing career drew to an end, I realised there weren’t many [female] coaches. In fact, there were none. So I decided I [wanted] to be a coach. That took me on another very difficult journey because, of course, I was the only woman and the men were a bit averse to that, it was a boy’s club. So I had to fight my way into that as well.

"[I fought my way] into doing FIFA courses in ’93 and then we had a big CAF instructors course in ’94. With much pushing, shoving, jumping up and down and crying, I got into those courses."

The Former Banyana Banyana Coach also spoke to how she earned further respect as a coach; “Once I got in, the guys realised that I could play very well. I was a very fast left-footer, and so they accepted me because of my skill. [These] guys are now big boys, Trott Moloto, Shakes [Mashaba], Computer (Vusi Lamola), the late Ted [Dumitru] were there. That’s how I started coaching.”