NS Deferment for Ben Davis to Develop Singapore Football Talent
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“I will enjoy the achievement and success so far, but now it gives me the motivation, drive and desire to push on to achieve the ultimate goal of playing in the Fulham first team in the Premier League,” — Ben Davis
“Ben has been trained here in Singapore and shows to all Singaporeans that you can be coached in Singapore and achieve the highest level for a 17-year-old on the international stage." — Harvey Davis, Ben’s father
Benjamin Davis is the first Singaporean footballer to sign a professional contract with a top-tier English Club, Fulham. He was first awarded a two-year scholarship in July 2017 and due to his outstanding performance on the field, he was among the first 5 scholars to be awarded a pro contract.
As a Singaporean, however, Ben has to enrol for compulsory 2-year National Service. He has applied for long term deferment so that he can continue developing his talent in a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in one of the best leagues in the world.
This was rejected by the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) on 15 July on the grounds that he "does not meet the criteria for long-term deferment from Full-time NS". 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”. Thus, “it would not be fair to approve applications for deferment for individuals to pursue their own careers and development”.
In the last 15 years, only three have met this criteria, they are Singapore's first Olympic gold medallist Joseph Schooling, fellow swimmer Quah Zheng Wen and sailor Maximillian Soh.
This petition is to appeal against that decision. We believe that Ben Davis should be given the opportunity to develop his talent. Soccer is a sport that is very close to Singaporeans - just look at the current 2018 FIFA World Cup fever in Singapore. In addition, soccer is fundamentally a team sport where a single talent cannot just bring the entire nation to an international stage (unlike Swimming and Sailing, sports which the previous three individuals are from). Being able to play on an international stage would help Ben Davis to not only bring recognition to Singapore as he gets identified as a Pro player hailing from our tiny red dot, he could also help to up the game in Singapore by bringing his learnings from the international arena to his fellow players in Singapore and elevate the sport here.
It can be argued that Fandi Ahmad, a talented Singaporean soccer player who played for Niac Mitra (Indonesian FC) and FC Groningen (Netherlands FC), was able to help Singapore achieve three silver medals in the SEA games because of his international experiences.
“There are no shortcuts to building a team each season. You build the foundation brick by brick.” — Bill Belichick, NFL head coach
We may not have achieved ‘Goal 2010’, but perhaps if we take our first step and invest in our young talents, we can get closer to Goal 2022 or Goal 2026.
Update (18th July):
Ben Davis has no intention to fulfil NS duties; actions meant to further his professional career: MINDEF https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/ben-davis-has-no-intention-to-fulfil-ns-duties-mindef-10541112
Harvey Davis replies to MINDEF’s 2nd statement here: https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/ben-davis-father-unfortunate-mindef-thinks-son-will-not-serve-ns-10541392
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