Singapore teenager Davis signed by Fulham, hopes for NS deferment
Teenager Ben Davis will hope to emulate Olympic swimming champion Joseph Schooling by bringing international success to Singapore when he begins a two-year scholarship with English side Fulham.
The 16-year-old is one of 10 new Fulham scholars for the 2017-18 season, and the first from Singapore.
And like Schooling, who beat Michael Phelps in the 100m butterfly final at last year's 2016 Rio Olympics to win Singapore's first-ever gold medal, Davis hopes to be granted National Service (NS) deferment.
That would allow Davis to focus on his football career by postponing his NS obligations, which require all male Singaporeans and Permanent Residents to give two years' service from the age of 18.
"We have been engaging with various authorities over his national service deferment," his father Harvey Davis told The New Paper.
"Fulham FC have one of the best academies in England, and their players go on to represent top English clubs.
"We are proud that there is a chance for Singapore to possibly see its first player in the English Premier League."
Davis, who runs the JSSL Arsenal Soccer School, has nurtured the career of his son, who could become the first Singaporean to sign for an English league club since defender Daniel Bennett played for third-tier Wrexham 14 years ago.
Ben, who was born in Thailand, gained Singapore citizenship in 2009. He has played for the Football Association of Singapore's (FAS) Junior Centre of Excellence team, the Singapore Sports School and National Football Academy.
An attacking midfielder or striker, Ben has also represented Singapore at most age-group levels, and will play in the AFF U18 Championships in September, and the AFC U19 qualifiers in October.
"We're delighted with the class of 2017, we were very encouraged by the profile of the players," Fulham academy director Huw Jennings told the club's official website.
"Ben Davis is the first scholar to sign from Singapore. There is an interesting cohort this year and we will see."
Although Fulham are in the second tier of English football, their U18 side plays against Premier League sides like Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal.
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