Barbra Banda, the captain of Zambia’s national team, has received clearance to participate in the upcoming Women’s World Cup held in Australia and New Zealand. This decision comes despite a previous ‘gender eligibility test’ that she did not meet.
During a friendly match last week, Banda led her team to a remarkable 3-2 victory over Germany, scoring two goals and showcasing her exceptional talent. However, she was unable to compete in the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations due to elevated levels of testosterone detected in the gender eligibility test conducted before the tournament.
Testosterone, the primary male hormone, influences various aspects of male development during adolescence, including increased bone density and muscle strength.
Nevertheless, FIFA has granted Banda permission to participate in the Women’s World Cup this month, as teams are now allowed to conduct their own internal investigations to determine gender eligibility. In a statement to German publication BILD, FIFA stated, “The World Cup participants have assured us that they will conduct thorough investigations to provide clear evidence of their players’ female gender.”
In the past, prior to the 2011 Women’s World Cup in Germany, female players were required to undergo genital examinations conducted by FIFA-appointed doctors. These gender eligibility procedures have faced significant criticism from former players, including Nilla Fischer of Sweden, who wrote in her biography, “We were instructed not to shave ‘down there’ in the days leading up to the examination and to expose our genitals to the doctor.”
Currently, DNA and blood tests are conducted on a case-by-case basis, with physical tests reserved for exceptional circumstances. As a result, the majority of players are not subjected to these examinations.
At the age of 23, Banda plays as a forward for Shanghai Shengli, a Chinese club, and has scored an impressive 30 goals for Zambia since her debut in 2016. Last Friday, she delivered an outstanding performance against Germany, netting a remarkable brace, including the winning goal during injury time through a blistering counter-attack.
Despite being unable to participate in the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations, Banda made history at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, where she scored two hat-tricks. Prior to pursuing a career in football, Banda was an avid boxer, starting at the age of 14 and winning five professional bouts before shifting her focus to football.
Born in Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, Banda played football with boys during her early years as the academy she attended did not have a girls’ team.
In the upcoming Women’s World Cup, Zambia will be competing against Spain, Costa Rica, and Japan in the group stage. Their first match of the tournament is scheduled against Japan on July 22nd.