With the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup taking place in France this summer, and The Football Association’s Gameplan for Growth strategy aiming to double the number of women and girls taking part in football by 2020, this year promises to be a landmark for women in sport. We spoke with Jawahir Roble, BA (Hons) Football Coaching & Management student at UCFB Wembley, about the progress being made and the importance of empowering women and girls through football.

You participated at the Women In Sport North Conference in October. Tell us about your experiences at the event?

I was honoured to be invited to the Women In Sport North Conference at BBC Quay House. Meeting current and previous Olympians was an exciting moment that I will always reminisce.

Jawahir was part of a refereeing panel at the BBC’s Women In Sport North Conference with rugby league official, Julia Lee, and netball umpire, Gary Burgess

This gave me the privilege of sitting on the referee panel sharing my footballing story with the audience. I was really inspired and motivated to carry on with my ambition after hearing all the advice and powerful speeches.

How important is empowerment of women through football and sports in general?

It’s important because there is a stereotype of women being less able to participate in male dominated sports such as football. It is also important to build confidence for women and young girls by showing them role models who have been in the field and are successful.

What are your future plans? What have you got coming up?

Jawahir referees grassroots level football on a regular basis

My future goal is to encourage and empower young girls from the BAME community to take part in football sessions to suit their ability. There are not many female football sessions due to a lack of awareness for young females who could one day pursue football as their career choice.

I’m working towards making a change to increase opportunities locally and find the right network to support me in achieving this. My aim is to increase the local female provision from the bottom up by first starting up Wildcats for the youngsters to get started to see a growth over the next strategy. This will give lots of opportunities for coaching and refereeing and support groups within the county and the capital.

How will your activities and achievements in the industry help in your studies?

These activities will give me experience and skills required for my studies. It will help me get confidence and build networks that I may need when I finish my degree.

From your perspective as a BA (Hons) Football Coaching & Management student, how can women’s participation in football be boosted across the UK?

The number of women and girls playing football can be boosted through the FA’s plan which is to double women’s participation by the year 2020.

The 2019 Women’s World Cup will take place in France in June and July and this could have a really big impact. This event will give more publicity and visibility to the women’s game and it will encourage girls to pick up a football.

Tell us about your work as part of the FA Youth Council? How did that role come about?

I was the regional officer for London and my role was to deliver specific projects for young people including The FA’s Leadership Academy. I was working with young people in London and county FA’s to work out strategies for increasing the number of children and young people (CYP) participating and volunteering in football as well as developing a vast CYP network with county FA youth councils and student managements teams in all regions across the country.

Jawahir has worked with the FA Youth Council delivering projects for young people including The FA’s Leadership Academy

The role came about in 2016 when I attended the FA Youth Council camp at St George’s Park and found out about the position for National Regional Officer for London.

And how about your work as a Navigator with AoC Sport – the membership organisation for colleges, leading the development of sport and physical activity in 16+ education?

My work as an AoC navigator was to support and encourage individuals, provide feedback to apprentices and pose appropriate challenges to individuals to help focus personal development.

Tell us about your experience in grassroots football? 

I really enjoy refereeing grassroots level football because it has taught me to be resilient and improve a lot of skills such as time keeping, organisation and people skills.

What are your ambitions for the future?

My ambition for the future is to be the best coach and referee that I can be, and be able to influence the game positively on a wider level by inspiring women and girls, and to motivate members of the BAME community.