The transfer window in women’s football closed with a historic deal. Orlando Pride from the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) completed the signing of 24-year-old Zambian forward Barbara Banda from the Chinese club Shanghai Shengli. The transfer fee amounted to $740,000, making it the second most expensive acquisition in the history of women’s football.

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Banda’s Record-Breaking Transfer

Orlando paid £582,128 for the striker, signing her to a 4-year contract. Such a staggering amount by women’s football standards is only surpassed by the recent transfer of another Zambian star, Rachel Kundananji. In February of this year, Bae FC acquired her from the Madrid club CFF for $787,600.

Banda herself doesn’t hide her joy at moving to one of the strongest leagues in the world: “NWSL is one of the most competitive and strong leagues in the world, so it’s a great honor for me to get the chance to play here. From the first meeting with the club and the general manager, I knew I wanted to join Orlando Pride. I can’t wait to start working with my new teammates. I hope that with my humble abilities, I can help the team achieve great things and win many trophies.”

Global Star

Banda burst onto the global football scene after an impressive performance at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.


 There, she scored hat-tricks in two consecutive matches against the Netherlands and China. In total, at the club level with Shanghai Shengli, the Zambian scored 41 goals in 51 matches, winning the Golden Boot in her debut season.

In 2022, Banda became Zambia’s top scorer with 10 goals in the victorious COSAFA Women’s Cup for her national team. And before the 2023 World Cup, she scored twice in a friendly match against Germany (3-2) – on opposite sides of the ball from Kundananji.

At the World Cup, Banda also made her mark with a goal that gave Zambia their historic first victory at the World Championships, defeating Costa Rica 3-1. In the Round of 16, the African team lost to England, but their performance was recognized as one of the main sensations of the tournament.

Orlando Pride Ambitions

Orlando Pride’s management sees Barbara Banda’s transfer as one of the key steps towards winning the club’s first-ever NWSL championship title. The owner and chairman of Pride, Mark Wilf, stated directly:


“Our goal has always been to turn Orlando Pride into a contender for the NWSL championship, and we believe that investing in the world’s best players is a prerequisite for success on this path. Barbara fits perfectly into our philosophy.”

Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager of Pride, Haley Carter, added:

“Barbara is a natural-born scorer and one of the most powerful physical forwards in the world. She just turned 24 this month, and we are absolutely confident that she will be a key figure in our attack for many years to come. We can’t wait to see her in the Orlando purple jersey and help further the growth and development of the versatile qualities of this fantastic footballer.”

The acquisition of Banda clearly demonstrates Orlando Pride’s ambitions to establish themselves in the elite of women’s football in the USA and the North American league. The club is ready to invest serious resources in building a winning team around their new striking star from Zambia.

Banda’s reinforcement, along with the recent transfer of another young Zambian, Avissa Mwaye, from a Madrid club to an English championship team, is evidence of the growing competitiveness of African players in the global transfer market. Women’s football continues to gain momentum around the world.