The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) “strongly supports” teen footballer Benjamin Davis’ request to defer his National Service (NS) enlistment date, as it feels that his case merits “serious consideration” by the Ministry of Defence (Mindef).
“At age 17, Benjamin has been given a contract to play football at a professional level with Fulham FC, in the English Premier League, and we believe that the support for a Singaporean to play at the highest level will have benefits to the community and nation … This will be the first time a Singaporean has been offered a professional contract by a club from one of the top six leagues in the world,” said an FAS spokesman.
In a statement on Tuesday (17 July), FAS said that it had communicated its support through the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) when Davis made his initial application for deferment. This was rejected by Mindef in June as he did not “meet the criteria for long-term deferment from full-time NS”, said the ministry in a recent statement.
FAS acknowledged that National Service is of “vital importance” and that the obligation to serve is universal, as well as Mindef’s position that requests for deferment from service should be the “rare exception” for sportsmen rather than the norm.
However, it asked for a “balanced approach” in order to promote and enhance burgeoning talent without compromising the integrity of the NS agenda.
“The FAS understands the concerns around exceptions but believes that a balance can be struck between player development and national service obligations in this unique case,” said the spokesman.
Davis was born to an English father and a Thai mother and gained Singapore citizenship in 2009. Davis’ father told Yahoo News Singapore on Monday that his son may consider switching nationalities if his NS deferment appeal is ultimately rejected.