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Meet UK’s first female Muslim football referee

Words by Smiley Team

Jawahir ‘JJ’ Roble made history when she was named as the UK’s first female Muslim football referee.

“It makes me proud to be referred to as a trailblazer in a field that I simply love,” she tells Smiley News. “I appreciate what I do and aim to empower and inspire others by doing so.”

JJ arrived in the UK as a refugee from Somalia when she was 10, and grew up in north-west London with her parents and eight siblings.

She’d play football anywhere she could. When she was 19, she wrote about how she became more serious about encouraging Muslim girls to play football – and she continues to be on that mission every single day. 

“Everyone has a place,” she says, “and everyone is special in their own way: Allow no one to tell you that you don't belong – you do. Work hard and have fun with whatever you choose to do.”

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JJ adds: “I just made one decision: to always be true to who I am and what I want to be. My life paths have always led to what I enjoy."

Charity partnerships

JJ has recently partnered with In Kind Direct, a charity founded by HRH Prince Wales that believes everyone deserves access to life's essentials – and that no usable product should go to waste, enabling more people to thrive with confidence and dignity.

“I know what it’s like to face adversity, having fled civil war in Somalia and coming to the UK without knowing any English,” she says, speaking about the partnership.

“I’ve been in difficult situations and In Kind Direct is all about alleviating these tricky times, by enabling people to thrive with dignity and confidence through product donation. 

“So many of us take a toothbrush or deodorant for granted, but this can mean the difference in keeping happy and healthy in school, or even applying for job interviews."

In Kind Direct’s #PoweredByKind campaign is calling out for retailers, manufacturers and brands to donate product to support more people. They are also urging more charities to sign up to the network, which can save them money and time to focus on other areas of need. 

The goal is to give the gift of confidence, self-esteem and brighter futures. 

Inspired to act?

JJ has partnered with In Kind Direct for their 25th Anniversary as they urgently appeal for more product donations from companies, retailers and brands.

SUPPORT: Find out more about the initiative and how you can help at

This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

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