'Medal prospect' policy works against team sport athletes

Like many Singaporeans, I am disappointed with the Ministry of Defence's (Mindef's) decision to reject Ben Davis' application for national service deferment so that he can pursue a professional football career with English Premier League side Fulham (No NS deferment for Davis: Mindef; July 16).

The decision will certainly derail Davis' dream because a two-year delay or interval at this stage of his budding career will certainly result in him losing out on opportunities to be part of the EPL.

Mindef in its press statement said that only athletes representing Singapore at international competitions or those with medal prospects will be given deferment consideration.

This appears to favour individual sport athletes. Team sports like football or basketball, especially in the context of the Singapore team, will never be a medal prospect on the world stage, at least not in the near future.

If Davis is able to achieve success by winning a professional contract with a team from the EPL, Mindef should give him special consideration.

Mindef is standing in the way of the fantasy of every young footballer who will look up to Davis like how the previous generations looked up to Fandi Ahmad of FC Groningen and V. Sundram Moorthy of FC Basel. I hope Mindef reconsiders its decision.

David Tan Kok Kheng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 18, 2018, with the headline ''Medal prospect' policy works against team sport athletes'. Print Edition | Subscribe