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The inspirational story of UK’s first female Muslim referee aiming for the Premier League

Jawahir Roble is hoping to become the UK’s first female Muslim referee to officiate in the Premier League.

She moved to the UK with her parents at the age of ten as the family looked to escape the civil war in Somalia.

They took up residence in Wembley, London, and Roble says that her love of football not only helped her to make friends but to integrate in the community despite speaking no English at the time.

“You don’t need to know anybody’s language to play football,” she told the Press Association’s Jamie Gardner.

“Football has helped me so much, it has developed me as a person. Sometimes communicating with people is difficult, especially with other kids. That’s how I started learning the language – it was bringing my own football to the school and kids would come to me and say ‘Oh, Jawahir, you have a football, can we please play?’ Just with hand gestures they could say ‘come on, let’s play together’ and I was like ‘OK, let’s go’.”

Initially she held dreams of becoming a professional footballer, but those were ended when her parents forbade her from playing.

Refusing to give up on her passion completely, Roble turned to refereeing instead.

“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,” she recalls.

“It was such a cool Saturday, 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.

“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.”

Photo: PA

And now she hopes to referee in the Premier League or the Women’s Super League one day.

“Honestly that’s the mission,” she said.

“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.”

“I am very fortunate,” she continued. “I am a black woman, I am visibly a Muslim, I don’t think I can recall any incidents. Once, a parent came up to me and said ‘ref, someone said something discriminatory to you, you should chase it up’. But apart from that one incident, I’ve been very lucky so far.”

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