Singaporean footballer Benjamin Davis, who joined Premier League club Fulham FC in July last year, has been denied a deferment from his national service (NS) enlistment.
According to media reports, the 17-year-old had his deferment application rejected by the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) as he “did not meet the criteria for long-term deferment from full-time NS”.
“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,” said MINDEF in a statement.
The ministry noted that deferments are granted only to those who represent Singapore in international competitions such as the Olympics and are potential medal winners.
“In the last 15 years, only three have met this criteria,” said MINDEF. Swimmers Joseph Schooling and Quah Zheng Wen, along with sailor Maximillian Soh, make up the three who were previously granted deferments.
MINDEF added that it had consulted with the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth on the decision and that Davis’ parents had been informed of the outcome in June.
In an announcement on its website on Friday, Fulham FC said that Davis was among five scholars who signed their first professional contracts with the club.
Fulham noted that Davis, the first Singaporean to join the club’s academy, had accrued a pass accuracy of over 90 per cent while playing as a midfielder for Colin Omogbehin’s Under-18 side.
The club said Davis had been called up for the Singapore national team earlier this year but has yet to make an appearance.