Slick on iceTeammates Lance Corporal (LCP) Ryan Tan and 3rd Sergeant (3SG) (NS) Darren Goh sit down with PIONEER and tell us what it takes to be a national athlete while serving National Service (NS).
// Story by Chia Chong Jin
// Photos by Kenneth Lin & James Ng
The duo were part of the National Ice Hockey team that clinched a historic bronze medal for Singapore in the top Men's Division in the 2019 International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Challenge Cup of Asia earlier in March this year – the team's highest achievement to date.
How did you juggle both National Service (NS) and ice hockey?
LCP Tan: Our ice hockey training is usually held late at night on weekdays (sometimes even as late as midnight), so it can be mentally and physically tiring, especially during the months leading up to the National Day Parade (NDP).
(He was involved in this year's NDP, which required him to help out on Saturdays.) Hockey training on Fridays would usually end late at night. Frankly, it was quite challenging for me to cope with these commitments
However, I am thankful for my superiors, namely my Command Chief, Master Warrant Officer Denesh, my immediate superior, 3rd Warrant Officer Kishore, S3, Major (MAJ) Jason Huang and Commanding Officer, MAJ Marcus Wong, who have been understanding and supportive of my sporting commitments. They ensured that I was given the necessary rest and time-off to train after I have finished my duties in camp.
3SG (NS) Goh: For me, the main challenge of juggling both NS and ice hockey is finding the strength to carry out my duties after a late night of sports training. Like what LCP Tan said, training usually late night, and having to travel from Jurong to Changi adds on to the fatigue.
That said, I am very grateful to my supportive superiors for allowing me to take time off to attend ice hockey training. My platoon commander, 2nd Lieutenant Caleb Chia, would help me plan my duties so that I had ample rest in between my training and duties. My Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Alvin Phua, allowed me to travel overseas to participate in the IIHF Challenge Cup of Asia, where we emerged 2nd runners up.
What are some life lessons you’ve learnt during NS?
LCP Tan: Discipline: it’s the hallmark of any good military. Especially in team sports such as ice hockey, discipline is critical to the team’s success in terms of training, commitment and actions on the ice. NS has definitely made me a more disciplined person, and that has improved my attitude as an ice hockey player as well.
3SG (NS) Goh: I learnt resilience through field camp in Specialist Cadet School (SCS); I told myself that if I could persevere through the tough conditions during field camp, I could persevere through my ice hockey training, no matter how strenuous or tiring they were.
Teamwork is another important value I learnt in the Army. To succeed in the military or in ice hockey, everyone has to work well together. As long as everyone plays his or her part diligently, there is nothing that we can't overcome.
What are some memorable experiences you've had in NS?
LCP Tan: Every role and individual in the Air Force plays a part to ensure overall success. Being able to work as a team to complete the Squadron's daily operations, and the time spent with my buddies in the ammunition department is what made NS more enjoyable and memorable. Even after our working hours, we will still meet up outside of camp to hang out.
3SG (NS) Goh: The seven-day field camp in Pulau Tekong during the rainy season when I was in SCS last year was especially memorable. The incessant rain throughout the week tested my mental resilience and forced my entire section to come together and grind through to achieve our objectives.
Fast-forward to my days in Changi Air Base, it gives me immense pride to be part of Force Protection in charge of guarding the airbase. We are tasked with ensuring the safety and security of our base, and making sure that the personnel and equipment in our base are well protected so that they can respond to any air threat efficiently.
How do you feel after clinching the Bronze medal at the IIHF Challenge Cup of Asia in March?
LCP Tan: This result was a good indication that we are moving in the right direction, and goes to show that success is possible with hard work put into the right place. We have to continue to work hard and improve ourselves for future tournaments.
3SG (NS) Goh: It was probably one of the best feelings I've ever had. Achieving a medal after many years of hard work and dedication from all the national team players was truly rewarding. I felt overwhelmed with pride when they played our national anthem during the prize presentation ceremony, and I will never forget that moment.