We at Team Police and Police Sport UK believe in the power of sport in all it’s form and level. Bringing people together, promoting health and happiness both in our physical and mental health. We thought we would bring a few inspirational stories from our colleagues in the policing family , to show the potential of sport and what it can mean in our lives.

Here is Darren Bolts story – “The Journey of a Basketball Official”

“My love and passion for the sport started at the age of 11 when my PE teacher introduced me to the best game in the world. I loved the game so much, I could be found at the local park with a ball in my hand shooting at a big sign which read ‘no ball games’ like it was my own basket. I’d shoot ‘imaginary hoops’ until it got dark. I played to a good level and loved being around people who shared my passion. I’d watch how others played the game and try to emulate them. I officiated my first game aged 16 without being qualified and received a fee less than my co-official. That didn’t bother me too much, except he was awful, and I wanted to provide a better product. I passed the course in 1992.

I began refereeing local league matches and let me tell you they are the most difficult games to officiate and manage, even now, but it’s where you learn the art of refereeing and how to communicate with others. I was ‘seen’ by a well-respected coach locally who told me I ought to consider taking my officiating further. I enrolled on different officiating courses and clinics, nationally and internationally, and started to receive National League appointments. I qualified to the next level and began to receive more nominations nationally and was invited to officiate at prestigious end of season tournaments. I was working with co-officials who I’d grown up watching on television and who I held in high esteem. I was living my best life and doing well, travelling the country, officiating good level games.

In the 90’s I was nominated as a candidate for the level 4 award (highest domestic level) but a mix up meant Basketball England did not receive the paperwork from the region which would allow me to apply. This was a huge set back and extremely disappointing.

My career as a police officer has always been incredibly important to me and for a while became my focus, until I was ‘seen’ at a game by Will Jones, who was a FIBA and BBL official. This is when my officiating journey took off again. I qualified as a level 4 official in 2003/4 and invited to be a group 1 referee and with it came numerous BBL games. I will never forget my first BBL game. I was living the dream, travelling the country, often by plane to referee in the top league in the UK. I was nominated to Finals at the NIA, 02 and other prestigious areas in front of huge crowds. Many of the games were Televised.

I never thought this could ever happen to me, a normal bloke who lives in a sleepy village in Cornwall. I then received the best news ever, I was asked whether I would consider becoming a FIBA Commissioner. Sadly, my age meant I could never qualify as an international referee, but this was the next best thing surely. I qualified in Munich in 2011 and waited to be nominated to my first game. They came thick and fast, where I travelled Europe, to countries such as Spain, France, Macedonia, Hungary, Sweden, Poland to name but a few. I stayed in quality hotels, eating in the best restaurants, not to mention the company I kept and the games I was part of. What was there not to love?
I received a nomination as Plymouth Sports Official of the year in 2015 held at Plymouth Pavilions and won. I retired as a police officer in May 2021. At 54 I’m still an active BBL official plying my trade in Britain’s top professional league. I continue to officiate in local leagues and love to work with our next officiating talent, offering them the support and opportunities that I was given in the hope they can live the dream that I have. I’ve met some remarkable people and experienced worlds I could never have dreamt of, were it not for Basketball and officiating.”

Darren’s story of the many colleagues who have achieved and got so much from sport. We at Team Police are on a journey to bring the policing family together through sport , promote wellbeing and good health , supported by our valuable business sponsor partners. If you feel inspired by Darren’s story, and want to know more about us and how to support colleagues through sport then we would love to hear from you. Let’s have that conversation!