Singapore’s first Olympic gold medalist, Joseph Schooling has waded into the NS deferment debate surrounding Ben Davis. Schooling, who himself encountered past difficulties in securing a National Service deferment offered advice to the rising football star. Speaking on the sidelines of the Singapore Sports Awards where he was crowned Singapore’s Sportsman of the Year for a fifth time, Schooling emphathized with Ben Davis’ situation.
“It’s definitely been a difficult situation for him. My advice to him would be to follow his dreams, follow his heart and do what he needs to do,”
“I come from a different sport, I was in a different situation. I can’t advise him on what to do. Obviously, he should get together with his parents, decide what’s the best plan for himself and go from there.”
Schooling, 23, is one of only three athletes in Singapore to have received a longterm deferment from National Service in the past 15 years. Schooling’s earlier 2013 deferment played a pivotal role in his Olympic success, allowing him much needed time to train for the 2016 Olympics in Rio where he eventually won the gold medal in the 100m butterfly final.
The Football Association of Singapore has backed Ben Davis in his deferment request as his case “merits serious consideration”. Sports Singapore on the other hand, backed MINDEF in their decision to reject Ben Davis’ deferment request as the Davis family was “unable” to give a commitment to return to serve his national service.
MINDEF also further accused the 17 year old of having no intention of returning to fulfil his NS duties, and that his father Harvey Davis was only looking out for his son’s future, instead of Singapore’s. This was refuted by Davis, who made it clear that “Ben should do his NS but the question is just when”.