Orlando Pride

Newest Pride forward Barbra Banda is ready to bring Zambian flair to Orlando

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Just a few days into her tenure in the City Beautiful, Barbra Banda is already feeling right at home. This past Sunday, the Zambian international got a hero's welcome at the Orlando International Airport as fans welcomed her to her new home in Orlando, Florida.

"I was so happy and excited," the newest Orlando Pride forward said at INTER&Co Stadium on Tuesday, "I didn't expect that, but I think it was one very good welcome for me. I appreciate the fans and the support that came to the airport, and we appreciate that. I think I should see those supporters more often in the stadium."

Banda officially signed with the Pride over one month ago, but after helping Zambia qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics, with two goals in the clinching match, she finally made her way stateside to begin her NWSL journey.

"It was very exciting," she said. "The team, everyone is friendly, very welcoming, and I very much felt at home. I think I'm here for the purpose, for a reason, I'm here to work together with the team."

The forward trained for the first time on Tuesday morning with the Pride, getting her first experiences with her new teammates and the Florida weather. Now, after a whirlwind 72 hours, she and her new team will prepare to take on the San Diego Wave on Friday at 8 p.m. ET from INTER&Co Stadium. After watching from afar, Banda is excited and ready to prove herself in NWSL.

“I think the league is quite good. I’ve been following it from way back,” she said. “I think it’s a very interesting league, very strong. All the teams are very physical, fast. So I think it’s good for myself to improve.”


From the coaching side, Banda is exactly what the Pride have been needing on the pitch. A strong finisher in front of goal, the Zambian forward will be looking to capitalize on all the chances Orlando has created in front of goal, but haven't been able to finish so far this season.

This move for Banda looks to be a mutually beneficial one for both sides not only on the pitch but off it. The Pride get a clinical goal scorer and Banda gets an opportunity to show her skills on a bigger stage.

"I think when you look at an athlete like Barbra, her commercial potential, she should be a FIFA Best 11 every year consistently," Pride VP of Soccer Operations and General Manager Haley Carter said. "I think one of the reasons she hasn't been is because people have not had access to see her play. I think for athletes coming out of Africa, in particular, and even other markets like Oceania and South America, the talent pools in those continents are incredible, but it's unfortunate because oftentimes, the casual soccer fan doesn't get to see them play unless it's at the Olympics or the World Cup. We're happy to be able to bring Barbra to the NWSL, so the entire world can see her consistently week in and week out and the amazing things that she can do. She is a special one-of-a-kind talent.

"We talk about developing athletes on and off the field, but you hear her talk about the importance of growth and developing as a player, so making sure that we're providing her an environment that's high performance where she can develop, a staff that's going to support her off the field. We have the facilities, we have the housing, we have everything that we need to help her grow effectively, and that's really what it was about. Money is one thing, but athletes want to feel supported, so it was important for us to put a full package together that made her feel comfortable in coming to the NWSL and coming to Orlando."