SHEPOLOPOLO striker Barbra Banda says she started playing football to change her life. Barbra, who recently joined Spanish Escuelas de Fútbol de Logroño, says she believes she will go far in her career if she just concentrates on what she is doing. Barbra is currently with the Shepolopolo in Ghana for the on-going African Women Cup of Nations. The team takes on Nigeria today at the Cape Coast Stadium with a win guaranteeing their qualification to the semi-finals.
Barbra, the first Zambian female footballer to play in Europe, spoke to BBC Africa sport.
She said when she started playing football, she had no boots.
“It wasn’t nice seeing my friends putting on boots and I was playing bare-footed. I normally used to watch female football and I was inspired by teams around the world. I went into football to change my life because just sitting in the compound sometimes it brings some other problems for us girls. You get into other abuse of starting to drink beer,” she said,
Barbra captained Zambia for the first time earlier this year.
She also excels in another sport – boxing.
Barbra says he was inspired to try boxing by former WBC bantamweight champion Catherine Phiri.
“I started training as an amateur but the amateur boxers started refusing to fight with me because I had no losses in amateur boxing,” she says.
“I like boxing because it is a disciplined sport. You can fight, there is nothing like you hate each other. When the fight is over, you are still friends. Actually here in the compound I am more like a role model to them. Whenever they see me they are always happy with what I do and they try to get closer to me so that they know what I really do so that they get inspired.”
Barbra says she loves both sports but mainly chose football because boxing is a short career.
“I think football will take me somewhere. I just have to concentrate on whatever I do. I think I will go far,” said Barbra.
Coach Mellisa Saili says when Barbra was an U17 player, what stood out was her determination.
“… there was a game where she was injured but she said she was going to ignore the pain. ‘I am going to push so that I play for my country’ and she played very well in that game,” she recalls.
Saili says in African culture, it was a taboo for a female to play football or even get involved in boxing, but of late parents are encouraging their children to take up the sport.
Barbra’s mother Joyce Nkhoma said she supported Barbra to play football and boxing because sport is good for young people.
“Girls in the community lack sports activities. Most of the girls drink beer and are found in clubs. I have watched her a number of times and the goals she has scored. She has made me and the community proud,” said Nkhoma.