Netball: National Under-19 player goes from representing Singapore to protecting the nation

National under-19 netballer Cheyenne Shee To has swopped national colours for an air force uniform. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE – After donning national colours for the past five years, Singapore Under-19 netballer Cheyenne Shee To will be wearing a different uniform bearing the country’s name.

The 19-year-old, who completed her A levels at Hwa Chong Institution (HCI) in 2022, has applied to be a pilot or air warfare officer after signing on with the Republic of Singapore Air Force. She enlisted for basic military training (BMT) on Jan 3.

On why she chose this path, she said: “I wouldn’t be able to get the experience offered (by RSAF) elsewhere and I value that very highly as an adventurous person.

“With how quickly they usually respond, there’s a higher chance of them being able to respond to humanitarian aid. So I’ll be able to use any skills I get better and I won’t just be protecting the nation, I’ll be protecting others as well.“

She was introduced to career options with the RSAF through tea sessions and webinars organised by HCI, where regular servicemen talked about their jobs.

Coincidentally, an experience at a netball carnival then convinced her to sign on. At the Deloitte Pesta Sukan in August 2022, she saw the Singapore Armed Forces Sports Association netball team and made up her mind.

She said: “Seeing an organisation push for such bonding experiences through a sport that I love, and the fact that they were also playing at a standard I would want to play at... was pivotal in making me decide that the SAF may be the place for me.

“Ultimately, it was my own decision and a long-drawn-out process.

“It took a lot of talking to my parents, who are both supportive, and I did go on the Internet to do research. But it was the conversations I had with the people in the force that meant more.”

While Shee To has put her netball journey on hold – she was also part of the national Under-14 and Under-17 teams – her experience as an athlete has helped her cope during BMT as she has learnt to be adaptable and work in a team.

“Serving in BMT is physically strenuous, but surprisingly I found myself enjoying it and I’m really happy. They treat us equally so there’s no sort of prejudice,” she said.

“I’m naturally adventurous and being engaged in a sporty lifestyle is something that I’m used to. I’m a very easily adaptable person, so this new military lifestyle is not tough for me to adapt to.”

Her father Ivan and mother Wong Lin were at the HCI campus to watch their only child collect her A-level results on Friday. They beamed with pride as she revealed she had scored 86 rank points out of 90.

Cheyenne Shee To (centre) with her parents Ivan and Wong Lin after collecting her A Level results. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

They were also in Jeonju, South Korea, where she played in the national U-19 team’s triumph in an Asian international netball event in 2022.

Said Ivan: “As a parent, we can only support her in whatever she wants and hope for the best for her. I hope she will continue to have a fighting spirit.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I know that she’s capable and will give her all in what she does.”

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