The 2021 Cityzens Giving Young Leaders Summit, presented by Etihad Airways, got off to a productive start on Monday.

This year’s event is being hosted digitally on Webex by Cisco with more than 500 Young Leaders from 25 cities around the world tuning in each day.

The 2021 Summit was opened on Monday with a welcome message and personal leadership reflections from City Football Group CEO Ferran Soriano.

Participants then took part in a live interactive discussion with coaches from City in the Community on adaptation – looking at how to adapt sessions for the needs of different participants using specialist equipment, skills and expertise to make them inclusive for all.

Paul Kelly, Community Outreach Lead Coach – Disability at CITC said: “For me, adaptability means including everybody, and making the sessions available for all to enjoy, have fun and develop.”

Zhu, a Young Leader in Guangzhou, China, joined the panel to share more about his work to promote disability inclusion in his community, through Unified Football sessions which allows those with intellectual disabilities to play alongside other children on the same pitch.

The day also saw four other Young Leaders - Shraddha from Mumbai, Linda from Cape Town, Wesley from Sao Paulo and Avishek from Kolkata - share their highlights and learnings on the theme of adaptation and inclusion.

For Shraddha, who lives in a community in Mumbai where there are many different religions, using football as a vehicle to bring children from different religious groups together has been a personal highlight for her.

She said: “I took the initiative to mix up the groups of children during the football sessions.

“Seeing how well they have gelled, the communication level and bond they have built, has made me so happy and it was football that enabled me to do this.”

The Young Leaders Summit continues on Tuesday with the focus on the importance of mentoring future young leaders through volunteering opportunities, providing inspiration and valuable support to help them navigate their own paths and achieve their goals.