Navy Officer And Daughter Of Former National Coach Sets Up SAFSA Women’s Basketball Team
It’s not uncommon for people to go the extra mile to chase after what they’re passionate about.
For Military Expert (ME) 4 Neo Yong Qi, her love and passion for basketball led to her setting up the Singapore Armed Forces Sports Association (SAFSA) Women’s Basketball Team, which clinched a medal at the Public Service Cup just a year after its formation.
When asked about how her passion for the sport came about, ME4 Neo shared that she often watched her father — who used to coach the Singapore national basketball team — on the court when she was younger.
She apparently found such experiences calming and therapeutic while serving as an outlet for her stress.
Navy officer sets up SAFSA Women’s Basketball Team in 2018
Instead, female athletes from the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA), and the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) competed under the DSTA banner.
Following conversations with SAFSA, ME4 Neo set up the women’s team in 2018 and became its first captain.
Just a year after its formation, the team reportedly clinched bronze in the 2019 Public Service Cup and silver three years later in 2022, after the Covid-19 pandemic.
As captain of the team, the 29-year-old says she has to arrange training sessions and maintain discipline and chemistry among team members.
She has also had to learn how to manage individuals of different ranks, especially since it was impossible to ‘pull rank’ during a game.
Father was coach of Singapore national basketball team
Setting up a team from scratch is no easy feat, but ME4 Neo’s passion for the sport probably made it worthwhile for her.
In the interview with Pioneer, ME4 Neo shared that she played basketball throughout her schooling years, from secondary school all the way to university. She also played for the national under-18 training squad.
Her biggest inspiration, however, was likely her father Neo Beng Siang, who used to coach the Singapore national basketball team.
Recounting her younger days, ME4 Neo said she “would always be on the courts watching him [her father] coach or play ball”. She reportedly found such experiences “calming” and “therapeutic”.
Besides her father, ME4 Neo’s two sisters were also basketballers.
Engineer with the RSN outside the court
While there are tons of differences between basketball and ME4’s role as an RSN officer, there are some skills that are transferrable nonetheless.
Away from the court, ME4 Neo is a Naval Warfare System Engineer and works with a team of engineers to oversee the maintenance of surface ships, submarines, and civil resource platforms.
Her leadership skills are put to the test when it comes to leading the planning and coordination of the squadron’s daily operations with the flotillas and Headquarters.
When asked about the highlights of her career so far, the 29-year-old said it must be seeing people around her grow and realising their full potential.
An inspiring story
ME4 Neo’s story is certainly inspiring and showcases the lengths one might go to for the sake of chasing their passions.
It must also be heartwarming for ME4 Neo’s father to see his daughter nurturing a basketball team of her own, akin to what he’s dedicated decades of his life to.
We wish the SAFSA Women’s Basketball Team all the best in their future endeavours.
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Featured image adapted from Pioneer.
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