Webinar recap: Sustainable funding for migrants’ sporting activities


Maria Malyshkina, ISCA

How does the funding of migrants’ sporting activities work? What are common schemes in different countries and what are the challenges and possible solutions to finding sustainable funding? Organisations and clubs that work with migrant and refugee populations discussed these and other questions at the recent Integration of Refugees Through Sport Network webinar, organised in cooperation with Monaliiku from Finland.

Iida Deivasigamani from Monaliiku, Finland, started the webinar with a presentation about the swimming activities they provide to migrant women who come across cultural and language barriers when they try to play sports. Their challenges do not end there – it is not easy for the physical activity providers to find suitable swimming pools or qualified teachers either. However, engaging volunteers as peer instructors is a helpful solution, even when the funding is limited. Iida finished the presentation with an insight into how Monaliiku gathers funds from external (support from different foundations and clients from Monaliiku projects) and internal (participation fees and fundraising campaigns) sources.

Tilda Matthijs from RF-SISU Västra Götaland, Sweden, continued by introducing her organisation, which educates and leads sport clubs through popular education (folkbildning). The Swedish Model of funding for migrants’ sporting activities consists of a combination of public and non-public funds. Governmental funding is distributed through the central RF-SISU sport federation to district organisations. RF-SISU West then uses these funds to work with migrants mainly through their method based on StreetGames’ Doorstep Sport (which began in the UK and was rolled out in Gothenburg via ISCA’s MOVE Transfer programme). The organisation also cooperates with regions and municipalities to address regional and local needs and challenges, creating a specific concept for the latter called ‘idea-based and public partnership’. Another useful conclusion from Tilda’s presentation was that ‘sustainable funding requires sustainable projects and activities’ – meaning that organisations leading long-term projects that also involve the target group in developing the activities are building ‘trust capital’, which is even more important than economic capital.

Daniela Conti of UISP Italy, started her presentation about Italian sport for all organisation’s funding with the opening hook ‘How to survive without a clear policy of public funds’. She mentioned that Italy is not only lacking clear policies, but even a responsible Ministry for Sport with funding dedicated specifically to sport for all. The main decision power is concentrated in the hands of the Olympic Committee, which is working closer with professional sport federations. Daniela continued by explaining the funding structure of UISP Nazionale and how UISP supports social projects on national and local level, and gave an example of swimming activities in Turin organised for migrant women, explaining the income and costs this project generates and incurs.

Marte Nordahl Bøhm of the Sport Region of Viken, Norway, introduced her organisation and explained that funding for the Viken sport region comes from 10 municipalities which correlate with 10 sport councils consisting of 41 sport clubs with a range of activity offers for migrants. Marte underlined that universal inclusion through activities in schools can be very beneficial because it helps to connect different social groups without stigmatising them. Marte also brought attention to factors that make funding sustainable, such as long-term inclusion, reliance on grassroots initiatives, building an inclusive culture and awareness of connecting people in public and volunteer sectors with private stakeholders.

The first part of the webinar was rounded out by Ayisat Yusuf-Aromire, a retired Nigerian football player, who is currently a sports instructor at Monaliiku. She shared her story and talked about why it is crucial to include migrants through sport, putting special attention on the importance of gender balance and mental well-being. 

After a round of questions for the speakers, the participants went into breakout rooms together with the presenters to share their experiences, challenges and solutions related to fundraising. After active and fruitful discussions, the participants returned to the main room where the delegates summarised the points discussed, from process of application to receive funds to how incorporation of technologies can boost fundraising. One of the most important takeways remains that refugees and migrants must be included into the discussion – so it remains essential to do ‘nothing about them without them’.

Watch the recording of the webinar here and stay tuned for more updates!

We thank everyone who participated in our webinars and connected with other people working in the field of sport and inclusion, and we hope to see you again soon! Keep an eye on https://irts.isca.org/ and sign up to our newsletter for more information.

If you have any questions or would like more information about the webinars or IRTS online learning, feel free to contact Saska Benedicic Tomat.