On 16th February 2018 CSM and Muslimah Sports Association (MSA) discussed opportunities for a partnership to enable MSA to increase their delivery capacity that focusses on sport and physical activity for females from BAME background. 2 years on and MSA are currently delivering 17 sessions per week, have recently had their charity status application accepted, and our own role in bid-writing has seen us surpass our 2-year target of £25,000 raised for MSA. Not only this, but Chair and Founder of MSA, Yashmin Harun, also received a British Empire Medal in the 2020 New Year’s Honours list. Quite a year for an organisation still in its early days, so we sat down with Yashmin to discuss some of the progress that MSA have made and what’s next for the organisation.

It seems a long time ago we were sat with you and your trustees to discuss the future of MSA and how CSM can help, do you remember how this all came about?

Of course! It was by chance I guess as both CSM directors are married to 2 of our participants who also went on to do a lot of voluntary work with us. I remember speaking to them about bid-writing help being needed and naturally they thought of you at CSM to help us with that. They were both integral in the relationship growth as they took on more volunteer work with us, whilst their husbands tried to secure us funding to help deliver our projects. It really has been pivotal to get more BAME women active in the local community, and it’s only possible if everyone in the partnership is thinking along the same ethos of removing barriers for BAME women to participant in physical activity.

To think how far both of our organisations have come, it’s really nice to see how they have grown together through the partnership. What would say has been the main benefit for MSA out of this collaboration?

Honestly, it’s too easy to say the access to funding. But with that pressure of trying to secure funding being eased it has freed up a lot of time for me and the MSA trustees. It means we can focus on the delivery of all our sessions, engaging with communities, and building relationships with other organisation to help expand the amount of different sports we are providing for the local community. CSM have also been very helpful with advice on our structuring and strategy, which has ended up with us being granted charity status this year.

That’s fantastic to hear. Of course, these sorts of partnerships are important to share knowledge and resources, but what difference has it made to the sports delivery programme for MSA?

Having this partnership has meant we have been able to get new projects off the ground, whilst making sure our older projects are still able to run. This is really important for us because we establish strong relationships with high-quality coaches and facilities that we want to keep going. Let’s not forget that by securing funding it means we can also keep the costs for our participants low, reducing another barrier for activity for many people.

So, we have heard a lot about our partnership over the 2 years, but let’s think where we are now and with everything going on in the world. How has the recent coronavirus pandemic impacted your work?

It’s quite bad. All of our session deliveries have stopped, and we have lost money to facilities that have had to shut down. It’s an important time for communities to remain strong and help each other out. That’s why we’re not resentful about losing the money. But losing participants and coaches that we paid weekly is a big loss to the week. Not just for our organisation’s targets, but also that social feeling the MSA family has bonded over is very difficult without the activities being run. One of the things we are looking at is developing online classes because without it we fear we might be left behind.

A tough time indeed. 2020 has been quite a pivotal year for MSA, so where do you see yourselves in another 12 months?

MSA had plans to expand across to new areas and working in partnerships with National Governing Bodies to help deliver new sessions. We are already in advanced talks with Netball England and Golf Foundation about possible sessions to engage the BAME communities we work with. Also, we are working with consultants to advance our strategic direction and help get more full-time staff employed with MSA to expand our work.

That sounds great! It’s been great to chat with you Yashmin, and I know from CSM’s side of things it has been great to work with you and be part of a truly unique delivery model for BAME females in the local community to access sport.

If you want to hear more about what Muslimah Sports Association are doing in the community head over to their website and get active with MSA!