South Africa: Banyana Victory Is Jewel in Crown for SA Soccer Queen


Wafcon win is a priceless reward for Fran Hilton-Smith, a fearless pioneer of the women's game

It seems wholly appropriate that Fran Hilton-Smith was ferried, in the style of a royal family member in a sleek black transporter, to the Women's Africa Cup of Nations (Wafcon) final in Morocco.

She sat among the VIPs, drinking in the drama and revelling in the satisfaction of seeing a lifelong ambition achieved as South Africa won the Wafcon title for the first time on Sunday 21 July.

Hilton-Smith is a pioneer of the women's game in South Africa and her 40-year association with women's soccer has been instrumental in getting Banyana Banyana to where they are today. She was previously Banyana's coach and, most prominently, technical director of the women's programme at the SA Football Association (Safa). She vacated that role three years ago and still has not been formally replaced.

During her time at Safa, Hilton-Smith oversaw the issuing of 27 A licences to women coaches in South Africa from the Confederation of African Football - the most in Africa. Although officially retired, Hilton-Smith remains on the continental governing body's technical committee.

Determined fighter

This has been a heady time for her,...

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