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Give Your Best In All You Do, Says NSF Of The Year Darryl

National Service Talk For Secondary 4s

On 15 July 2021, Singapore Sports School’s Secondary 4 student-athletes had the opportunity to hear first-hand about serving the nation from the 2020 NSF of the Year Darryl Sim Jing Quan. Darryl, a Badminton Academy student-athlete who graduated in 2017, returned to his alma mater to share with his juniors about his National Service experience and how they, particularly male student-athletes, can prepare themselves physically and mentally for the two-year obligation.

Speaking to the Secondary 4 cohort over Google Meet, Darryl, who will be commencing his second year of undergraduate studies in Yale-NUS College in August 2021, provided insight into life as a full-time national serviceman (NSF), beginning from an example of a daily schedule, the types of exercises and activities NSFs go through, to the rough timeline of national service in Singapore. 

The alumnus, who was part of the 4th Singapore Infantry Regiment (4SIR) 17th mono-intake, counts his opportunities to undergo overseas training in Brunei and Taiwan, three weeks at a time, as one of the highlights during his NS. Another highlight of his was experiencing Army Training Evaluation Centre (ATEC) evaluations. An ATEC evaluation is a rigorous assessment for Army units where soldiers are put through a series of realistic missions for up to a week, with little rest.

Another experience that Darryl regards as a privilege was being a part of the 2019 National Day Parade (NDP) as it was “chance to make a tangible impact on Singapore”. Through helping out during the NDP, he derived a sense of pride and led to a deeper appreciation of Singapore and how far the nation has progressed.

Reflecting on his personal experience, he shared some of the challenges he faced and gave practical advice to student-athletes on how they can prepare for NS. There were similarities between being an athlete and life at Sports School to that of a soldier, such as the high level of discipline, resilience, hard work and never-say-die attitude that is required. Sports School’s 12th students’ council president gave credit to Sports School for inculcating these traits in him which helped him get through NS. The difference, however, was the strict, regimental lifestyle of the army.

In the army, there are bound to be many obstacles and instances of hardship to overcome, and Darryl admits that it was “not glamorous and tiring”. The initial stages were filled with a lot of questions about what he was doing in the army and if it had any meaning, but his NDP stint and talks with his superiors changed his perception and allowed him to look at his journey positively.

One advice he gave in response to that challenge was to give one’s best in everything he does. The positive mindset he adopted led him to score perfect 100 points in two IPPTs (Individual Physical Proficiency Test). Prior to receiving the 2020 NSF of the Year award, the Corporate First Class also received the Commanding Officer and Regimental Sergeant Major Coins for Good Performance, and was named Best Soldier of 4SIR in 2019.

Darryl also encouraged student-athletes to maintain their physical condition before enlisting, and speak to family and friends before enlistment so as to be prepared mentally and know what to expect during NS. While serving NS, one should make use of the two years to continue learning or pick up a new hobby, and to share one’s ups and downs with others. For Darryl, NS helped reinforce the importance of family, friends and his army buddies. He said: “These people play a vital role in your time in NS. They’ll be your pillars of support, people you confide in when you are facing tough times. So when you’re serving in NS, don’t keep it all to yourself. Share it with the people close to you and know that they’ll be there through these rough times.”

He also addressed the role of females in NS, such as being part of the support system by offering encouragement and offering an outlet for males to share, or even to consider signing on and serving the nation.