Many people might believe their battle for respect in life is hard enough already without also trying to become a referee.
It is a thought not lost on Jawahir Roble. “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 asks with a gentle shake of the head while reflecting on a remarkable personal journey.
Known as Jawahir Jewels, or JJ to her friends, the 23-year-old is sitting with Standard Sport at Wembley ahead of England’s World Cup qualifier against Slovenia as a guest of the Football Association, just a few weeks after winning the Match Official gong at the organisation’s 2017 Respect Awards. Eleven winners were chosen from more than 1,000 nominations, with JJ recognised for her volunteering work at education charity Football Beyond Borders (FFB) and Middlesex FA, coaching FFB’s first ever women’s team and reaching her Level Six referee qualification.