Xylem and Man City expand Water Heroes Academy

The Xylem Water Heroes Academy, a global initiative with Manchester City Football Club’s Cityzens Giving charity that uses the power of football to tackle local water challenges, is expanding to ten cities.

Pablo Zabaleta with Young Leaders and the Premier League Trophy at Deportivo El Coyolito in Mexico City
Pablo Zabaleta with Young Leaders and the Premier League Trophy at Deportivo El Coyolito in Mexico City - Photo: Hector Vivas/Getty Images.

Since its launch in 2021, the Xylem Water Heroes Academy has engaged over 75 young leaders and delivered vital water education to more than 6000 young people in five cities: São Paulo, Mumbai, Cape Town, New York City and Shanghai. The expanded network, which now also comprises youth-led projects in Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Cape Coast, Kuala Lumpur and Melbourne, aims to positively impact 20 000 more young people over the next four years.

To mark the launch of the expanded academy, former Manchester City star Pablo Zabaleta and the Premier League Trophy visited the El Coyolito neighbourhood in Mexico City to meet Cityzens Giving Young Leaders who are using the power of football to solve local water issues.

Despite heavy flooding and rainfall, Mexico City is facing a water shortage. More than 20 million residents do not have enough water to drink for nearly half the year and one in five people have access to only a few hours of running water from their taps a week.

The project will see Young Leaders from love.fútbol use specially adapted football games to educate young people in the community on responsible water consumption, as well as the importance of safe water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH).

Zabaleta took part in a youth-led football and water festival and engaged in a Q&A session with young participants, before learning a traditional Mexican dance.

“Meeting the Young Leaders in Mexico City was an amazing experience,” said Zabaleta. “The way they are using football to teach children about the importance of water is creative and inspiring, and it’s great to see this unique initiative from Cityzens Giving and Xylem expanding to more cities. The Young Leaders are so engaged with supporting their community and to be able to contribute in a small way was a privilege.”

Young Leaders, Xylem employees and fans from Manchester City’s Official Supporters Club in Mexico City also joined forces to repaint the El Coyolito pitch and create a water-themed mural.

City in the Community coaches also delivered training to 40 Young Leaders in Mexico City, sharing expertise and knowledge in leadership, community football and WASH. This was followed by a three-day digital Summit, connecting Young Leaders and Xylem experts from all ten cities to share ideas on tackling water challenges through football.

“Climate change continues to threaten water availability in communities across the globe,” said Austin Alexander, vice president, Sustainability and Social Impact at Xylem. “Xylem Water Heroes Academy harnesses the power of football and young leaders to address these water challenges and make our communities more resilient.”

Later this season, Manchester City fans will have a chance to learn more about the five new Water Heroes Academy projects and vote for their favourite young water heroes.