Before moving to New Zealand as a 12-year-old, Jama Boss had never played football in boots or even on grass.
Growing up in Yemen, Jama developed his skills on the street. There were no clubs, no fields, and little structure.
Games would be interrupted by passing cars and, with no officials, there was plenty of foul play that went unpunished.
“There was plenty of rough stuff going on and sometimes we would wag school to keep playing,” Jama says.
This upbringing perhaps explains his trademark goal scoring celebration where Jama gets on all fours and kisses the turf.
“It’s just about being grateful for the moment.”
This sight could well become customary at Trafalgar Park this season after Tasman United secured the highly sought-after signature of Jama for the 2019/20 season.
Jama is a renowned goal scorer and brings a formidable reputation to Tasman.
Born in Somalia, Jama moved to Yemen as a three-month-old and grew up in a large family with five sisters and eight brothers.
When his father passed away in 2008, they fell on hard times financially and turned to family in New Zealand.
Jama’s uncle Adbi helped bring Jama and his siblings to Hamilton
“It was a hard time,” he says. “We needed to move closer to relatives, so we reunited with them.”
It was here where Jama got his first taste of organised football.
“The game was so different to on the street where everyone just wants to get on the ball.”
‘The Boss’ or ‘Bossman’ didn’t take long to shine on the pitch and was soon being courted by various clubs before settling with the Hamilton Wanderers.
While looking for his next challenge, Jama headed north to join Manukau United where he enjoyed his most successful stint to date.
Jama picked up the golden boot in the Auckland division one competition, scoring 20 goals and winning almost every trophy available, including players player of the year, supporter’s player of the year and the league’s player of the year.
In the shape of his life, Jama says he hopes to bring his hot run of form south.
“Hopefully, there is more coming with Tasman.”
Jama was lured to the franchise by new head coach Jess Ibrom.
“It’s a great place to be and a great place to play football, so I couldn’t turn it down.”
Tasman kicks off its campaign on November 2 against Southern United in Dunedin.