Thirty young leaders from six cities across the globe spent one week at the City Football Academy in Manchester, England, as part of the first Cityzens Giving Young Leaders Summit.
Five of those leaders came from New York City: Emily (Saturday Night Lights), Brenda (South Bronx United), Ariana (BW Gottschee), Daniel (Downtown United SC) and Jeffrey (South Bronx United).
The delegates, all under 25 years old, came together from City’s family of Cityzens Giving projects in Manchester, Kuala Lumpur, Melbourne, New York, Barranquilla and Cape Town to learn from each other, develop their skills and make friends. The young leaders are tackling a range of issues affecting young people through the power of football including gang-related crime, HIV, obesity and inactivity.
“Coming into the summit I didn’t know what to expect because it was a completely new environment,” Emily said. “I learned about so many different cultures and different techniques on how to energize the kids. I learned great coaching skills like how to get everyone involved, make football reflected in popular interests and how to work together efficiently.”
Added Ariana: “I learned that communities around the world are using football as a simple tool to teach, mold and better their communities. I also learned that what many view as a simple sport has the power to enact change and connect people from every corner of the world, which was done on a small scale through the summit.”
During the week the young leaders took part in a variety of workshops to develop leadership, management and coaching skills. Sporting legends Will Greenwood and Marion Bartoli spoke to the group. The young leaders also had social media training by the Club’s digital team and community coaching lessons with Manchester City FC’s City in the Community team.
“One of the many things I learned was how to speak your mind even if you're standing alone because it’s amazing how other people will stand and follow after you take the first step,” Brenda said. “It is very hard to be a leader and one of the many challenging things is adapting into your environment. I learned there are many other countries, states, regions, religions and genders that are fighting for the same thing you are.”
The week concluded in a youth-led football festival for 200 local school children.
Not surprisingly, that was the highlight of the trip for many of the attendees.
“My favorite part of the week was working together to make the festival happen because I learned it isn’t about making ourselves look good or making a club look good, but it’s about the kids so they can have fun and also learn about problems going on around the world,” Brenda said. “What does it mean to be involved in changing lives in my community? It means that I’m not just a friend, a boss, a sister, a mother, it means I’m a leader and what I do affects all the ones around me. It means that I’m not just thinking about myself, but others surrounding me.”
Emily concurred: “It really brought everyone together. As a group, sitting and listening to each other was pretty hectic at first. There were so many ideas being thrown at the table it was a bit overwhelming. But as a group we decided, we accepted and we engaged together. I saw something beautiful arise as the young leaders from across the world come together.”