LONDON – As the football season draws to a close, Jawahir Roble has made history, becoming the first female Muslim referee in the UK, and she also wears hijab.
“When I first turned up to the match you could hear some boys just giggling, “No way she is the ref?! no!”,” Roble, who is commonly known as JJ, told Metro.
“[But] they can see that I am the ref because I am wearing my full kit.”
During her first season, JJ’s experience remained largely positive, facing no kind of sexism on the pitch.
“There was one time a guy came up to me and said, “I really like female referees, they’re good,”” she recalled.
“I will take that, that’s very nice, but no one has ever said, “Get in the kitchen, you don’t belong here”. I’ve not heard that yet and I don’t want to hear it.”
“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,” she added.
To JJ, 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”.
JJ, currently at level seven, hopes to reach level five. 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. ‘She has that ambition. Now I can put her on the first steps of the ladder and it’s down to her commitment if she wants to do it. She is a good referee.’ So what’s next for JJ?
“In ten years’ time I would like to see myself as a professional referee, refereeing in top leagues: Premier League, Champions league: there is [sic] no limits, I want to go all the way to the top,’ she says. ‘Referees have the best seat in literally any game.
“They’re in the center, you get to see everything that is happening, we’re in the best seat, and refereeing is so amazing. You get to make a decision on important things. ‘As soon as I step onto any pitch and I’m refereeing, it’s just pure happiness,” she concluded.