Last weekend saw Dartford host Chippenham Town at Bericote Powerhouse Princes Park. Dartford FC Women’s striker Paris Smith featured in our matchday programme that day. For those who missed that feature, here is the full article:

Paris Smith is in her second season with Dartford FC Women, and the striker is in high spirits during our conversation. And, having enjoyed her favourite time of the year (Christmas), is looking forward to the challenges ahead as the team look to get their consistent form back.

Yet, the thirty-two-year-old is also under no illusions when it comes to her future… “I want to enjoy as many seasons as possible with the time I have left. I want to try and inspire as many young girls to play football as I can. And, of course, to win the league would be the cherry on top of the cake!”

The player, who has made the number 23 shirt her own, has worked hard to get to where she is. But, like most in the women’s game, it’s not been an easy journey for her.

That journey began when Paris was just five, “…Mum took me to Ballerina School, but I had no interest in it. My older brother played football and I went along with him. I ended up playing football with Cobra Boys and found my passion there.”

From there, Paris joined Leyton Orient, where she progressed through their Centre of Excellence. Her journey then took her to West Ham Ladies where she was actually a goalkeeper… “Not many people knew that I was a goalie for many years, until this season where I had to start in goal. I eventually moved outfield when I was around 18-19.”

After representing the Hammers, Paris changed her colours to the blue of Millwall’s Lionesses, before she moved on to Billericay Town in order to balance work and football. Last season she arrived at Bericote Powerhouse Princes Park, “…I’m in my second season now and I love this team.”

Like most in Connor Dymond’s squad, Paris has a career outside of the game… “I’m a police officer in the Metropolitan Police. I work on a specialist team, Pan London, which targets criminals using motorbikes to commit crime. It has been very rewarding helping people, but also consists of a lot of late shifts.”

With a career in football not really being a viable option for a young Paris, her wisdom in choosing a career over football is commendable, especially when you consider the field that she works in. However, she is pleased with how she’s seen the women’s game grow… “It’s been a pleasure to see how it has grown and that younger girls can now make a living from it.”

Whilst we’re on the subject of the beautiful game, as we refer back to Paris hoping to inspire young girls to play the game, I ask her who inspired her… “For me, spending my younger years in goal, my inspiration was always David Seaman and Fabien Barthez. On the other hand, outfield I aspired to be like Paolo Di Canio. He was a nutter and had so much passion. But, the women in the WSL have done some amazing stuff and, having female inspirations has been a game changer.”

Moving on, last year was a rather exciting and busy period in the life of the striker. She sky dived, “…which was amazing!”, and she also travelled to Norway… “I travelled there to compete in the European Championships with the GB Police Team. The whole experience was surreal, and shows how far women’s football has come.” And, on top of all that, Paris also contributed towards a win in an important game for Dartford FC Women… “I scored a 30-yard screamer, which drew us level before we went on to win the game.”

With a full-time job and an important role within Connor Dymond’s squad, life is busy for Paris to say the list. Yet, she still finds the time to have a personal life as well. She loves spending time outside and being surrounded by dogs. Family is also very important to her, and she tries to spend as much time with them as possible.

A typical day will see Paris getting, “…up with my dog, have a coffee, and take her (the dog) on a 5K walk before heading off to work. When I’m not at work, my life revolves around her. My working days are very different though, which I like. I never quite know what to expect. However, the favourite part of my day is eating! I also have a slight addiction for tattoos and the pain!”

As far as the future is concerned, Paris says that she just wants to be happy and healthy… “The last few years with COVID have been wild, but I just want to enjoy spending time with people and enjoying the simple things in life.”

And with that, our conversation reaches its conclusion. Yet, Paris has one final thing to say… “Thank you so much for your support. It means everything to have people there watching and cheering us on.”

By Chris Palmer