A Dundee coach and official has had his years of dedication to sport recognised after being named sportscotland’s Technical Official of the Year.
Darren Thomson has been involved in boccia for 26 years, mainly as a coach, but he has been officiating for the last seven years, seeing him take to boccia courts at Paralympic and world level in front of packed crowds.
But that is just a small part of what Darren gives to the sport. As a coach he runs sessions to help players onto the player pathway with the plan of leading on to national and international level. Darren is also passionate about the sport at a recreational level where he oversees sessions where players with physical and mental disabilities play together, saying the effort the players made to overcome their disabilities was the thing that got him hooked on boccia.
Dundee to London
Darren officiated at the London 2012 Paralympics and the 2018 World Championships in Liverpool, but he insists what he enjoys most is being on court with the athletes whether that be at home in Dundee or with the world’s best at the ExCel Arena in London.
He said: “It was the sport that grabbed my attention in terms of the efforts the individuals were making to overcome their disability. It dragged me in after that, from an officiating standpoint to be involved on the court with those individuals is fantastic and the passion is still there all these years later.
“I’ve been involved in a range of officiating capacities at a local level, I really still enjoy working at the grassroots and helping to bring on new players.
“One of my career highlights was to be involved in the London 2012 Paralympics. I was there just a year after I passed my international qualification. That was a great experience, I absolutely loved it. Boccia is usually a sport that doesn’t attract a huge audience, to be in the ExCel Arena with 5,000 attendances every day was just incredible.
“The thing I enjoy most is being with the athletes, seeing the highs and lows of the sport. At all levels of the sport to be able to see and interact with the athletes first hand is a privilege.”
A lifetime of dedication
Darren picked up his award on an evening where inspirational coaches, officials and volunteers from all over Scotland were celebrated across 13 categories for their significant contribution to sport over the past twelve months.
Stewart Harris, sportscotland Chief Executive, paid tribute to Darren:“Darren has given so much to the sport of boccia, his club and of course all of the athletes he has worked with over the years. This award is truly fitting for a lifetime of hard work and dedication.”
About the COV Awards
The sportscotland Coaching Officiating and Volunteer Awards 2018, were held at Glasgow City Chambers on Thursday, November 15th where leading athletes congratulated the winners and thanked them for their work in supporting and developing sport in Scotland.
Stewart Harris, sportscotland Chief Executive, said: “Every year across Scotland, thousands of dedicated sporting enthusiasts devote their time, knowledge and skills to help others achieve their sporting goals. Our Coaching, Officiating and Volunteering Awards provide us with a chance to celebrate the great sporting achievements that are taking place every day and congratulate individuals on their commitment to Scottish sport.
“At sportscotland we are implementing a world-class sporting system at every level in Scotland and we can only do so with the support of the many dedicated coaches, officials and volunteers.”
At the event, hosted by BBC Scotland’s Bryan Burnett, coaches, officials and volunteers involved in squash, wheelchair basketball, para swimming, badminton, rugby, judo, lawn bowls, swimming, football, athletics and boccia were recognised for the many hours they dedicate to helping others compete at the best level they can.