It doesn’t matter where you come from, you can make an impact. Jawahir Robles, Jawahir Jewels or JJ to her friends, was born in Somalia, but grew up in north-west London with her parents and eight siblings.
She grew up playing football in their garden. According to the 23-year-old, her parents were not so happy with her playing football, they she was embarrassing them because in there culture you won’t see girls interested in football.
Her hijab in the field is what gets the attention of the spectators, and many including herself wonder:“Who would ever think a black, Somali-born immigrant girl with eight siblings could ref a men’s game in England with a hijab on?she also saidHer first venture as a referee in the field was met with giggles.’When I first turned up to the match you could hear some boys just giggling, ‘No way she is the ref? No!’ she said, adding that they eventually accepted her.
She has been at the receiving end of criticism from religious conservatives, who have accused her of not respecting the religion and the Islamic culture. This does not bother her, especially since she is ‘here to break the stereotypes she said 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.”
JJ, now in university studying IT, views refereeing as a way to stretch herself and give her things to do at her leisure time.“It’s helped loads in my university life. If you’re just chilling the whole time, man that’s boring. It’s good to stretch yourself, to test yourself. Decision-making, being strong: you learn so many values from being a ref. And what I love is, get it right, they trust you,” she says.
In 2014, she wrote about how she became more serious about how to encourage Muslim girls to play football.] In 2013, she obtained a £300 grant, and managed to involve Ciara Allan, her local (Middlesex) county FA women and girls football development officer. In September 2013, Allen launched the Middlesex FA Women’s League with a new Desi division for girls. In returning for refereeing games every week, Middlesex FA funded Roble’s formal referee training.
In 2017, she was one of eleven award winners at the Respect Awards, and collected the Match Official prize. Roble award was in recognition of her volunteering work for the education charity Football Beyond Borders (FFB) and with the Middlesex FA, coaching FFB’s first women’s team, as well as for achieving a Level Six refereeing qualification. She is an FA Youth Leader.
JJ holds a Level Six refereeing qualification (County Referees, Supply League Assistant Referee) and is hoping to get to the level of refereeing in the Women’s Super League.