Rehydrating the Earth: football as tool for groundwater awareness raising

Advocacy and awareness raising is one of the main pillars under IGRAC’s strategy towards a more sustainable and equitable groundwater future. But to reach a larger audience about the importance of sustainable groundwater management, it is important to go beyond policy briefs, reports, scientific publications or webinars.

For that reason, IGRAC previously partnered up with the World Water Film Festival to use the power of cinema and culture, and is now also embracing sports. Together with Football for Peace, we want to unite the groundwater community and football world to incite mass activation. Since we both envision a long-lasting impact, this ‘Rehydrating the Earth’ campaign is a 10-year partnership. 

Recharge aquifers, bringing balance and building peace

Rehydrate the Earth is a global football campaign which is aiming to solve the world's water crisis. It is using the popularity of the Beautiful Game and American Football to assist communities and nations in achieving a more water-secure future. The goal is to educate people and apply practical solutions to tackle water issues at their roots. If we can help people realise that we are all connected through water and need to work as a global team to steward this vital resource. All this will serve the overall objective to strengthen water and food security as well as to promote biodiversity. 

Wall activation: kicking down barriers

Rehydrating the Earth: campaign goals

Besides 11 vs 11 peace matches with (former) professional football athletes putting the spotlight on groundwater issues, the campaign also includes ‘wall activations’. During these activations, kids, youth, and also adults, literally kick down barriers when they shoot balls at a wall of foam blocks with global challenges like ‘climate change’, ‘drought’ or ‘over-abstraction’ printed on them. This symbolic, fun action attracts a large, young audience and serves as a great tool to interest people in groundwater topics. 

World Water Day 2024

The two first milestones in this common journey of Football for Peace and IGRAC are wall activations in London and Washington DC, both taking place on Thursday 21 March in honour of World Water Day the day after. To unite youth and football athletes with policy makers, the two events will take place at the heart of governmental decision-making, namely at the UK Parliament in London and Capitol Hill in the USA

These two events also serve as the official campaign launch.   

World Water Day 2024 image

London launch event

At 10:00 a.m. local time, the House of Parliament will be the setting for the UK Rehydrating the Earth event. It will kick off with keynote speeches by members of the House of Lords and the Children’s Parliament at Portcullis House, after which there will be a wall activation on Victoria Gardens Tower Garden South. This activation will feature Senegalese professional Oumar Niasse (9 caps, 3 goals for national team) and English striker Adebayo Akinfenwa (215 career goals). 

London launch event RtE

Washington DC launch event

With the next world cup taking place in the USA, along with Mexico and Canada, Washington DC makes for another excellent location for a launch event. At 16:00 local time, the US launch event takes place at the National Mall. The event will feature youth clinics, keynote speeches, and the symbolic wall kickoff. This kick-off will gather star athletes from both football and American football. NFL All-Pro former Washington Commanders Cornerback Josh Norman will be one of those, as well as current D.C. United forward and former Liverpool striker Christian Benteke and female superstars Anna Heilferty (Washington Spirit) and Mana Shim (formerly Gotham FC). 

Washington DC RtE event