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We’ve got our first Muslim female referee!

We’ve got our first Muslim female referee!

Categories: Latest News

Monday May 21 2018

Sports has always been renowned for bringing people together regardless of colour, race, religion or any other label; however, it too exhibits racism, discrimination, and prejudice. Therefore, when steps are taken to address these incidences, discriminatory policies are overturned or when new ‘inclusivity milestones’ are reached, they should be greatly celebrated!

Ms Jawahir Roble, 24, recently made football history by becoming the UK’s first female Muslim referee, and is currently undertaking her second season as a Football Association (FA)-registered official.

Ms Roble, commonly known as ‘JJ’, moved with her family from Somalia to the UK as a child, and grew up in North-West London. Having played football from a young age, including in Somalia, she grew more determined to become a referee after attaining her FA-coaching badges.

Speaking of the first time she refereed a match, Ms Roble said: “When I first turned up to the match you could hear some boys just giggling, “no way, she is the ref? No!””.

She added how attitudes have improved considerably since her first match and now she rarely sees people being shocked by her presence on the pitch.

Ms Roble also spoke about how surprised she’s been with the incredible support she’s received from everyone, including “parents and players”, since becoming a referee. She spoke of one incident where a man came up to her and said “I really like female referees, they’re good”, highlighting the lack of sexism she’s experienced on the pitch.

Speaking of her ambitions, she said: “In ten years’ time, I would like to see myself as a professional referee, refereeing in top leagues: Premier League, Champions League…I want to go all the way to the top”.

She added: “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…As soon as I step onto any pitch and I’m refereeing, it’s just pure happiness”.

Ms Roble’s exciting achievement highlights the burgeoning contribution by British Muslims to football that has helped break down barriers between communities.

Another notable model in football is Mr Mohamed Salah, Liverpool F.C. whose skills have inspired fans to create a number of chants in celebration of his football antics but also of his culture and religion.

The lyrics of one chant are: “If he’s good enough for you, he’s good enough for me. If he scores another few, then I’ll be Muslim too. If he’s good enough for you, he’s good enough for me. Sitting in the mosque, that’s where I wanna be!”

A further example is that of Dr Rimla Akhtar MBE, who captained and played for the “British Muslim Women’s Futsal Team”. She was recognised in 2012 by the Women of the Year scheme and in 2013 was given the community award at the Sunday Times and Sky Sports Sportswomen of the Year Awards.

She has worked with groups all over the world in encouraging Muslim women to join football, including in Jordan where she helped run “four football clinics…involving more than 700 girls”, and was the first Muslim woman to sit on the Football Association Council.

Sports has always held the exceptional power of fostering community cohesion, and has historically provided an equal footing to all members of society regardless of societal labels.

This has been greatly capitalised on by members of minority communities, including Muslims, to engage with an activity they love, contribute to their society and dispel harmful stereotypes attached to their communities.

If we look only recently we can see how the contribution of British Muslim Athletes such as Khadija Safari, Mohamed “Mo” Farah, Amir Khan, Moeen Ali and numerous others have helped significantly to counter the negative portrayal of Muslims often pushed by the far-right.

Indeed, British Muslims, like all members of our large and varied multicultural community, wish to positively engage, influence and contribute to all aspects of our society. We must, therefore, continue to encourage young British Muslims to engage with all fields, whether that be sports, the media, or professional services, and continue to breakdown discriminatory barriers that actively and passively prevent this from happening.







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