There is just no escaping from National Service.
The first Singaporean to ever sign a professional contract with a top-tier English Premier League club has had his application for National Service (NS) deferment rejected.
Does not represent Singapore in international competitions
The Ministry of Defence (Mindef) released a statement on Sunday, July 15, stating that the application for Singaporean youth footballer Ben Davis to defer his NS commitment was rejected as he is neither a potential medal winner nor does he represent Singapore in international competitions.
The statement said:
"As 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.
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."
Davis, 17, joined Fulham on a two-year scholarship deal in July last year.
He was offered a professional contract one year into his scholarship.
Davis: Deal is "fantastic news for Singapore football"
Davis' father, Harvey Davis, told Channel News Asia he hopes "common sense can prevail" so that his son can not only be given the chance to pursue the dream of "every young Singaporean football", but also "make Singapore proud by being the first Singaporean to play in the EPL".
The younger Davis also said the deal was "fantastic news for Singapore football" as it shows that "Singapore can produce footballers who can play at the highest level in the UK".
His father added that as Davis has been trained in Singapore, it shows "all Singaporeans that you can be coached in Singapore and achieve the highest level for a 17-year-old on the international stage".
He also said they had been "completely transparent" with the authorities, informing them immediately of both Davis' scholarship contract back in 2016 and his professional contract in May this year.
Davis junior will turn 18 years old this November.
Despite the rejection, the Davis have yet to give up.
Davis senior said the Football Association of Singapore will help put forth an appeal to Mindef.
His son will have to return to Singapore in December to enlist for full-time NS despite signing the contract with Fulham on June 29.
Top image via Fulham