Singapore and Fulham’s rising football star Benjamin Davis must return to service National Service after his deferment request was not approved.
17-year-old Benjamin Davis signed a professional contract with Premier League club Fulham FC on June 29 and could become the first Singaporean to play in English football’s top flight.
Davis joined Fulham in July last year on a two-year scholarship and did well with the Fulham U-18s to convince the Cottagers to take him on a professional contract.
Channel NewsAsia confirmed that the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) sent a statement that they have rejected Davis’ deferment due to a couple of key markers.
“As all male Singaporeans liable for Full-time NS put aside personal pursuits to dutifully enlist and serve their NS, it would not be fair to approve applications for deferment for individuals to pursue their own careers and development,” MINDEF told Channel NewsAsia.
“In sports, deferments are granted only to those who represent Singapore in international competitions like the Olympic Games and are potential medal winners for Singapore. In the last 15 years, only three have met this criteria.
“Benjamin James Davis’ application for deferment was not approved as he does not meet the criteria for long-term deferment from Full-time NS.”
While the verdict may have been passed, Davis’ father Harvey Davis revealed that an appeal will be lodged with the help of the Football Association of Singapore.
“As the father of Ben, I really hope that common sense can prevail so that Ben can be given the opportunity to not just pursue his dream of playing in the EPL, but also the dream of every young Singaporean footballer and to make Singapore proud by being the first Singaporean to play in the EPL,” Davis’ father said.
Only three Singapore athletes have been granted deferment in the last 15 years, having met the criteria set by MINDEF. They are swimmers Joseph Schooling, Quah Zheng Wen and sailor Maximillan Soh.