Olympic champion Joseph Schooling tells Singapore’s first English Premier League footballer Ben Davis: ‘Follow your heart and dreams’

Joseph Schooling (left) has advised Ben Davis to follow his dreams and heart.
The Straits Times/Fulham FC

National swimmer Joseph Schooling has one advice for Ben Davis: “Follow (your) dreams”.

Speaking at the sidelines of the Singapore Sports Awards on Wednesday (July 18) night where he was crowned Sportsman of the Year for a record fifth time, the Olympic champion said: “It’s definitely a difficult situation for him. But my advice to him would be to follow his dreams, follow his heart, do what he needs to do.”

He added: “Obviously I come from a different sport, I was in different situation. I can’t advise him on what to do. He should get together with his parents, decide what’s the best plan for himself and go from there.”

Davis is the first Singaporean to be signed by English Premier League (EPL) club but his career at Fulham has run into a snag because of national service duties (NS).

He will be required to return to Singapore at the end of the year when he turns 18 because his application to defer NS was rejected by Mindef on June 11.

Davis went ahead to sign with the newly-promoted Fulham nonetheless on June 29.

His quest to appeal the rejection has since been publicly played out in the press and on social media.

Unlike Davis, Schooling is one of three local athletes who have received long term National Service (NS) deferment. The others are fellow swimmer Quah Zheng Wen and sailor Maximillian Soh.

Read also: Everything you need to know about Fulham’s Ben Davis – the first Singaporean to be signed by an English Premier League club