Sportswomen: Muslim Women's Sport Foundation facing cash crisis

Last Updated: 26/11/13 5:50pm

Rimla Akhtar (l) spoke to Vicky Gomersall on Sportswomen

One of the leading figures in promoting participation in sport among Muslim women has warned they may be unable to carry on their work if they are unable to secure new funding.

Rimla Akhtar, chair of the Muslim Women's Sport Foundation (MWSF), has revealed they cannot continue supporting their projects beyond the spring if they are unable to access non-Lottery money.

The foundation has made great strides in enabling Muslim women to become actively involved in sport, with a £235,000 grant from the Football Foundation allowing them to deliver the 'Born To Succeed' project, which offers crucial training and support.

Their work has also been recognised at a wider level, with the MWSF presented with the Mosaic Award by HRH Prince Charles for helping to inspire young people from deprived communities.

But the Muslim faith means the foundation is unable to accept funds which are related to gambling and with much of the funding for charitable organisations coming from the National Lottery, Akhtar fears they may miss out.

"The problem for us at the moment is that people from a faith and others, from a moral perspective as well, cannot access lottery funding," she said.

"The amount of lottery funding is increasing all the time and the amount of other funding is decreasing.

"We are finding it very difficult at the moment and in fact our activities and delivery are likely to stop from March onwards because the authorities don't have the funding to support us that isn't lottery funded.

"We are always looking for either private businesses or non-lottery funding to support us.

"It's a case of people seeing what we do, believing in it, and saying 'yes, we would like to support what you are doing'."

The MWSF has a "No Excuses" policy, which refuses to accept that barriers to participation are insurmountable and instead aims to find ways to offer access to sport for Muslim women.

But Akhtar insists they cannot compromise their core values in order to fund their work.

"If that (National Lottery funding) is the reason why women are not taking part in sport, then we cannot access that," she added.

"We have to stick by that policy because otherwise we are going against our own belief system.

"We are saying we want to be for women but there are a lot of women who would not turn up if it was lottery funded and they have told us that.

"We are just trying to get rid of every barrier so hopefully we will get the support soon to carry it on."

Rimla Akhtar was the main guest on Sportswomen. If you missed this week's show, catch it on Tuesday at 5.30pm on Sky Sports 1, 9pm on Sky Sports 3 and at 11pm on Sky Sports 4.

The show is also on Nov 27 at 11am on Sky Sports 2, 1pm on Sky Sports 2, 5pm on Sky Sports 1, and December 1 at 9am on Sky Living.

For more information on the Muslim Women's Sport Foundation, go to mwsf.org.uk