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Former Somali refugee becomes English football’s first female Muslim referee

UK's first Muslim female referee Jawahir Roble

Jawahir Roble is currently the only female Muslim referee in English football and her story is one full of inspiration.

Born in the civil war-hit Somalia, a 10-year-old Roble joined her family in relocating to London for safety.

Telling her story, she said she started by volunteering in local girls’ league games in her neighbourhood.

“I started volunteering at my local clubs and then one time I was asked to this local girls’ league and they did not have enough referees so they asked me to volunteer,” Roble, known as “she told the Press Association.

“I just went straight into it. I love football, I love the rules. I’ve learned to appreciate referees more and I’m so glad I gave it a chance, because sometimes you have to give it a go.”

What many do not know, though, is that she didn’t even have any plans of becoming a referee.

Roble first fell in love with football and actually wanted to become a player. So she went ahead to secure trials at some clubs.

However, her parents kicked against her becoming a footballer and requested that she pursues another career.

She narrated that although she didn’t plan of becoming a referee, she fell in love with refereeing and she has since not looked back.

Currently a qualified level-six referee, the 26-year-old aims to officiate in the English Premier League and the Women’s Super League.

“Honestly, that’s the mission. I’m getting my fitness up, I’ve lost a lot of weight you know, I’ve got cheekbones and everything,” she said.

“It’s happening — university has finished and I am going all out.”

Another unique thing about Roble is the fact that she is a devout Muslim and officiates while wearing her hijab.

In a separate interview with the BBC, she revealed that usually people are shocked that she prefers to handle games while in her hijab.

“When I first go to the ground I do not wear my kit. So I go to the groundsman and say, ‘Hello sir, I’m the referee today, please can you give me a changing room?’

“Then it’s usually: ‘Are you?’ At the beginning, I was wondering why they would be surprised, but now I can’t wait to say it and you get used to it. I like the shock,” Roble added.

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