She was good enough to be selected for her netball squad at Clementi Town Secondary School, even though she had never played the game before.
But when her coach started punishing her for making small mistakes, Nur Shahidah Liaquath Ali felt so demoralised she quit training for nearly a year.
Speaking to The New Paper, Shahidah (left), 17, said: "I felt like such a burden to the team, because every time I got punished, my teammates would also get punished.
That's how the coach taught us to work as a team.
"Obviously, that made my teammates hate me because a lot of them already had years of experience in netball and just because I kept making small mistakes, they also had to suffer.
"It made me hate training so much that I just quit without telling anyone."
From January to November 2010, Shahidah, then in Secondary 1, avoided all her teammates and even her netball teachers-in-charge, who asked her why she stopped going for training.
It wasn't until she heard that her old coach was replaced by the coach of the senior netball team in November that year did she think of coming back.
It took the then-vice-captain of the senior netball squad, Lee Yan Ying, to convince Shahidah to return.
Yan Ying, who is now at Ngee Ann Polytechnic, said: "It wasn't easy to convince her, because she felt so left out.
"When she found out that the old coach was replaced, she tried to come back to training, but her teammates didn't welcome her much, so to make things better I paired with her in training and we've been so close ever since."
The 19-year-old added: "I think she just needed someone to help her through the hard times.
We're still close now and she still asks me if I'm going to her matches, and I'll ask her to come to mine."
Her new coach, Carine Koh, 51, saw that Shahidah had the potential and started her off as a Goal Keeper, before moving her to Wing Defence.
It took her two more years before she was finally accepted as a member of the team.
Since then, Shahidah has been a constant fixture in her team.
While her school was knocked out in the first round of the West Zone Finals this year, they did compete in the M1 Schools Challenge League - a school tournament run by M1 and Netball Singapore specifically for schools who were eliminated from the first round of the Zonals.
Shahidah and her team came in runners-up after they were beaten 36-21 by Outram Secondary School in the final.
Said Koh: "Shahidah wasn't exactly skilful when she first started, but I could see she put in the hours in training.
"The discipline she had and her determination to improve and be part of the team have really developed her into one of the best players I've coached and I've been coaching this school for nearly 10 years."
This article was first published on June 26, 2014.
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