Jawahir Roble has just made FA history by becoming the first Muslim female referee in the UK.
She grew up playing football as a kid in Mogadishu, Somalia, and decided to pursue refereeing more seriously after studying for coaching badges as a teenager in the UK when a local girl’s league was short of match officials.
Fondly referred to as JJ, she wears a black coat and shorts over leggings, as well as a hijab pitch-side.
She revealed that the first time she officiated a match, the players couldn’t believe that she was the ref, Metro writes.
“When I first turned up to the match you could hear some boys just giggling, “No way she is the ref?! no’,” she recalls.
“[But] they can see that I am the ref because I am wearing my full kit.”
While she admits she hasn’t dealt with any undue behaviours on the pitch, it’s a different story online.
She says she gets ‘stuff like, “‘You’re not even following the religion, you’re not following the culture”. I don’t know, some weird stuff.
“Of course, football is not in my culture, no. But you know, I am here to break the stereotypes. Girls can play football, girls can do whatever they want. My religion is a part of me and I love it.”
JJ wears gloves to shake hands with the footballers in keeping with Islamic law that forbids men and women from touching each other.
To her, being Muslim simply means ‘being a good person, being modest and doing what makes you happy and I think I am doing all of that, but when people start mixing culture with religion, that’s when it gets confusing because some cultures are super, super strict, and people mistake it for religion’.
Currently at level seven, JJ is aiming for a double promotion to level five, and her mentor, Alan Hill, believes that she has what it takes to get to level one.
“JJ is willing to learn. She has got the personality and she can communicate,” he says.
He may be right cos according to JJ: “As soon as I step onto any pitch and I’m refereeing, it’s just pure happiness.”
Wish her luck!