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Women in football – working not playing (UK)

To celebrate International Women’s Day 2018, we talk to three women who work in non-playing roles in football about how they started out and the best ways to get involved.

Jawahir Roble – grassroots football referee and coach

‘That team over there hasn’t got a referee, can you go and help out?’… they gave me a whistle and cards – I didn’t even know there was such a thing as a referee course!”

JJ’s introduction to refereeing may have been unorthodox, but she credits her confidence to starting as a volunteer . “If you’re scared or haven’t got experience, volunteering is there,” she advises.

“Everyone wants to be a part of football; it’s just working out how to do it.”

JJ started refereeing children and parents, before progressing to refereeing men’s games.

“Start off from a level you’re mostly comfortable at and get someone to support you,” recommends JJ, who regularly invites women to watch her and discuss how they can all improve as referees.

“Sometimes people make little comments, but I just think ‘I’m doing this, I’m qualified and I love it’.”

With aspirations to become a professional referee, JJ believes anything can happen, adding: “You’ll last longer if you love what you’re doing.

“When people say we need to promote more ladies to referee, those sorts of things encourage me, it makes me proud.”

Robyn is a Final Score reporter and regular commentator on Match of the Day

Robyn Cowen – freelance football commentator

“It’s not a real job, is it!” The thing that strikes you when talking to Robyn is how grateful she is to do a job she is passionate about. Robyn credits supportive people around her for her rise, having stumbled into sports media via a placement at BBC Oxford.

“If it burns in your belly, if you really want it you can, the possibilities are endless,” she says.

Robyn admits that sometimes she counts how many other women are in a press room, and usually it’s none, yet she is positive about where women in sport are headed.

“It’s all about visibility, or maybe in my field audibility,” she adds. The male domination in football is “something you’re aware of… but with more experience it’s not something that worries you”.



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