a person holding a sign: Jawahir Roble. Shutterstock/Rex

© Shutterstock/Rex
Jawahir Roble. Shutterstock/Rex

  • English soccer’s first female Muslim referee, Jawahir Roble, says she aims to one day officiate in the Premier League.
  • “It’s happening — university has finished and I am going all out,” Roble, whose family moved to London from Somalia when she was just 10 to escape the country’s civil war, told the Press Association.
  • She added: “Without any struggles, no one is going to get anywhere, it doesn’t happen like that. I want to inspire as many young girls as possible.”
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Jawahir Roble was 10 years old when her family moved to London to escape the civil war in Somalia.

Now 26, she is making her name for herself as English soccer’s first ever female Muslim referee, and has her sights set on the very top.

“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 “JJ” to her friends, 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.”

Roble says she first fell for soccer as a player and had even been offered trials for clubs, however her parents forbade her from playing, encouraging her instead to pursue a “normal” career.

“My plan in life was to become a professional footballer and then a few years later it became a passion with refereeing. That was never my plan but I am glad it happened.”

Asked on her aspirations to officiate in the English Premier League or the Women’s Super League, Roble, who is a qualified level-six referee, said: “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. It’s happening — university has finished and I am going all out.”

Roble says players are shocked when they see her hijab 

“When I first go to the ground I do not wear my kit,” she told the BBC. “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.”


She added: “During a game, some players might say things like, ‘This is a man’s game.’ I say it’s a man’s game and a woman’s game. You just missed the goal and you are having a mare so focus on yourself.

“After the game finishes they usually apologize.”

Roble now wants to inspire more young women to get into officiating. 

“Strength is having your own weaknesses and sharing them with other people,” she told the PA. “It’s showing people that those weaknesses are not the end of the world and they can do it, they can push themselves.

“Without any struggles, no one is going to get anywhere, it doesn’t happen like that. I want to inspire as many young girls as possible.”

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