The UK’s first female, Muslim referee, who has her sights set on officiating in the Premier League, has told Sky Sports News she feels like she is entering a man’s world and is showing them who is boss.
Jawahir Roble, otherwise known as JJ, certainly takes no prisoners on the pitch.
From the sidelines, as she officiates a game, Roble can be heard offering a mixture of encouragement and warnings to the players.
“No pulling, no pulling”, she shouts, as a scuffle breaks out just outside the box. Roble, who referees wearing a hijab, can certainly handle herself in what she calls a man’s world.
She told Sky Sports News: “Everyone says it’s a man’s game, football is a man’s game. I feel like I’m coming to their territory and I’m showing them who’s boss.
“Showing them how it’s done and encouraging more and more girls to come and take over, because this is anyone’s game.”
Roble arrived in the UK as a refugee from Somalia when she was just 10 years old. Her family decided to make a new life in Wembley, after fleeing war in their home country.
Growing up, JJ played football with the boys, which her parents were not always on board with.
“My parents, where do I start with them”, she said.
“At the beginning it was like me against them. Them telling me, don’t play football anymore because it is a man’s game.
“Don’t play football because you’re a woman. Stop playing football because you’re never going to fit in. People will discriminate, people will be rude
“I get where they’re coming from. I told them: ‘Guys, support me in refereeing. Clearly I’m not going to stop loving football. I’m going to find my own way’. I’m so glad I found refereeing.”
Although Roble dreamt of playing for the Lionesses, she started refereeing purely by chance. When someone did not turn up for a game, she was asked to step in. She now has FA qualifications and a degree in coaching.
JJ often referees for youngsters at the Jason Roberts foundation, a charity set up near where she grew up in Wembley, which offers mentoring, sports and life skills to disadvantaged youngsters.
Roble is certainly a character. She is the type of person that puts a smile on people’s faces. She is cheeky, confident and takes no nonsense if she is ever given any abuse on the pitch.
Standing below the Wembley Arch, she sings: “It’s coming home, it’s coming home, it’s coming, football’s coming home”, not fazed one bit by those watching on. It is evident how much the area means to her.
She told Sky Sports News: “Wembley has welcomed my family. Growing up, we had all my family playing football in the back yard.
“We would see fans walking around our area and it’s such a nice vibe. In England football is so organised, so I was in the right place at the right time I guess.”
Roble says she is now training hard and watching what she eats because she is so desperate to fulfil her dream of refereeing in the Premier League, the Women’s Super League and perhaps one day even a Champions League final.
As she puts it, there are no limits.