Leveraging the power of sports to tackle global water challenges – one goal at a time

Leveraging the power of sports to tackle global water challenges – one goal at a time

Xylem recently announced the renewal of its global partnership with Manchester City FC for another four years. The renewed partnership extends to New York City FC and Mumbai City, who are part of City Football Group (CFG). Through water awareness, education and volunteerism initiatives, this unique collaboration has already reached more than one billion people globally – advancing a shared mission to create a more sustainable and equitable world.
The next phase of the partnership will accelerate action by mobilizing a further 100 million people to participate in water-related activities in their communities. Reflecting on the partnership successes to date, Patrick Decker, Xylem’s President and CEO, offers his perspective on how football can be a powerful force for change.

At Xylem, we have one mission – to solve the world’s most critical water challenges. Every day, we’re helping our customers and the communities they serve become more effective water stewards by providing innovative technologies and solutions that are helping transform water management around the globe.

To accelerate progress in tackling the world’s water problems, we know we also have to inspire and activate our neighbors and everyone in the community, especially the next generation.  And so, we set the ambitious goal of creating a global platform to raise awareness and engagement of both the water challenges we face, but also how we solve them together. That’s where our partnership with CFG plays a pivotal role. Since we joined forces in 2018, we’ve worked together to reach more than one billion people through water awareness and education activities. 

Manchester City’s Manager Pep Guardiola (left) with Xylem's President and CEO Patrick Decker.

The statistics are powerful – more people have stepped up to join our movement than we could ever have imagined. And we’re just getting started. This next phase of our partnership brings even more opportunities to ignite conversations on water challenges and solutions, and to connect with and inspire young water advocates and innovators.

The passion of youth and power of partnership

Our partnership with CFG provides us with access to a massive global fan base. Young fans are so invested in the game, they live and breathe it. Football is associated with passion, emotion, excitement and dedication – the same qualities needed to take on a huge challenge like solving global water issues. By tapping into that energy, we can motivate others to think differently about water and really advance our goal of creating a more sustainable and equitable world.
Our work with CFG underscores how our voices are so much more powerful together. Last year, as an extension of our partnership, we teamed up with Manchester City’s legendary manager Pep Guardiola and the Guardiola Sala Foundation to further promote youth engagement on global water issues. This alliance brought our association with CFG full circle, turning our powerful partnership into a community committed to influencing positive change.
Growing up in Catalonia, Pep has long been aware of the impacts of drought and the devastating effect it has on his community. In Spain, last winter was one of the driest on record, and the likelihood of drought inspired him and his family to get involved in water education programs through their foundation. It is a deep and impassioned commitment, and one that very much aligns with ours at Xylem.

The opportunity of a lifetime

Like Pep, it was an experience during my childhood that caught my imagination and led me to commit my passion and purpose to the cause of water. I grew up in Newburgh, Indiana, a small town along the banks of the Ohio River. I remember my shock when the river caught fire one day due to the extreme levels of contamination. As I grew older and began to travel, I quickly realized this wasn’t a unique experience – communities all over the world struggle with water quality and accessibility issues, big and small.
That’s really where my passion for solving water began. Today, I’m lucky to be part of a 17,000-strong team who share this dedication to make a difference. Between new innovative technologies and solutions, and a growing public interest in sustainability, the world has an incredible opportunity to solve water in our lifetime. This isn’t the same aspiration I felt as a child. Today it’s an achievable, real-world aim that is within our grasp. We must seize it.
Building awareness and mobilizing action through our partnerships with CFG is central to our efforts to realize a more water-secure future. With each new campaign or activation, we break new ground – advancing our journey, one goal at a time.

Pep Guardiola and Patrick Decker in conversation

Learn more about how Xylem and City Football Group are solving water together.
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- Celebrating The “Water Heroes” Tackling Water Challenges Around the World
- Xylem and Manchester City Football Club win Lighthouse Award for Innovation in Communication and Partnerships
- Exclusive look behind the Xylem & Manchester City “End of Football” film

Cityzens Giving spotlight: Cape Coast

Meet Fatimatu from Cape Coast, Ghana, an aspiring footballer and young leader in her community who is helping solve water through Xylem’s partnership with City Football.
Cityzens Giving, City Football’s global community initiative, and Play Soccer Ghana, with support from Xylem, created a program in Cape Coast to educate young people about health and water-related issues through football. In Ghana, 60% of the population still lack access to safe drinking water.
Fatimatu speaks about what it’s like to experience water scarcity and how it impacts girls in her community: “We don’t have easy access to clean water… every day we need to fetch water. Every single day. Sometimes we struggle and get to school late and tired, and learning becomes difficult for us.”
Through the safe water program, Fatimatu has been able to teach children about water and sanitation education, helping to keep them healthy in school and at home. In her words, “I always dreamed of helping young girls in my community, and this program will help to keep children safe from illness.”

Read more about the Cape Coast program.