Sports

Somalian becomes first Muslim woman to referee a football match

Somalia-born Jawahir Roble made history by becoming the first Muslim woman to referee a football match in the UK.
The 24-year-old, known as JJ, is a qualified referee at the UK Football Association who is currently finishing off her second season, according to the Daily Mail.
Now, she now dreams of refereeing at the Champions League
An immigrant girl, with eight siblings, JJ moved from war-torn Somalia to UK with her family as a child.
Though she started studying IT at university, she made the decision to become a professional referee, a step triggered by a voluntary experience in refereeing a local girls’ league in North West London as a teenager.
At first, her presence on the pitch was met with “giggles” from some players, JJ tells the British newspaper.
Apparently, it took her a while to battle for the respect, but now she couldn’t be happier in her role.
“When I first turned up to the match you could hear some boys just giggling, ‘No way she is the ref? No!’
“[But] they can see that I am the ref because I am wearing my full kit.”
JJ dons the Islamic headscarf, a long-sleeved shirt paired with shorts and a legging underneath, plus gloves.
But players have now accepted her, she said.
“I don’t get any grief because of my gender. There was one time a guy came up to me and said, ‘I really like female referees, they’re good’.”
Online critics
She spoke of those who criticized her on social media platforms for being a Muslim woman and a referee.
“[They say] 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.”
In her thoughts, JJ says being a Muslim, a woman and a referee aren’t contradictory to one another.
“Who said girls can’t be a referee and be a Muslim?”
Homeland memories
Back in time, in the war-ravaged Mogadishu streets, JJ recalled how she would play among the rubble.
The everyday dangers of war were a normality to her, she said, which later promoted her family to leave for the UK.
“In Somalia there was war and random attacks every day. I remember going to school, coming home and chilling with my siblings and playing [football] around on the street.
Hopes for future
JJ dreams to one day judge Premiership and Champions League matches. She sees herself becoming a professional in the next ten years.
“I want to go all the way to the top.”
“Referees have the best seat in literally any game. They’re in the centre, you get to see everything that is happening, we’re in the best seat, and refereeing is so amazing. You get to make decision on important things.”