Captain of Global FC, Badreldin Elhabbib decided to move from Sudan to the Philippines, eventually conquering Baguio and currently residing in Metro Manila. After 12 years, he now speaks four languages, including his fluent Tagalog that never fails to impress. A cool dude and an occasional badass, he can instill fear in the hearts of his enemies in an instant, but of course, he would rather be called the defender of the universe with his affable smile and incredible optimism. With so much history waiting to be narrated, Bads, beloved by teammates and fans, unveils it all.
Origin of Bads
Badreldin “Bads” Elhabbib was born in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on December 11, 1980, the eldest of four brothers and the son of a chemical engineer (father) and genetic engineer (mother). His parents’ inclination toward scientific pursuits is clearly there, but his father also taught him how to play football when he was just three years old. “My favorite toy was the football,” shares Bads. Football happens to be the Kingdom’s national sport: “Society in Saudi is all about football. They build the football pitch before the school,” adds Bads. No wonder all his siblings play football. Figo is a winger or a striker, Izo is a striker, and their 11-year-old brother Amad is also a striker. Figo and Izo are in the Philippines playing for football clubs as well.
Before we get down and dirty, how did he get that nickname, anyway? Thankfully, it has nothing to do with his physical appearance or a criminal record. We only have his zoology professor in Baguio to thank. It was during his first day in zoology class at the University of Baguio when his prof asked him to introduce himself, and upon hearing Badreldin Elhabbib, the prof decided, “That’s mahirap. Bad na lang.” Bads probably thought it was some kind of initiation rite because he humbly accepted his new nickname and added an S at the end. “I added the S because they might think I’m a bad person,” he says.
Bads Invades Baguio
It’s unfortunate but perhaps unsurprising that Bads still gets treated like he’s a total foreigner every now and then: “They think I’m from the States…. They’re like, ‘African-USA?’ But I correct them.” Bads has been living in the Philippines for 12 years now. On his first day in the country, he went straight to Baguio, where he fell in love with the weather, the mountains, and the people. He’s married and has two children in Baguio.
A cousin who used to study in Baguio introduced the Philippines to him not as the perfect tourist destination, but as a country where educational standards are high yet affordable. He took up medical technology at the University of Baguio, spent two years studying medicine at Saint Louis University, and finished at Lyceum-Northwestern University. “I’m a doctor by profession. Since grade two, my father has been calling me doctor. I wanted to be a doctor,” he says proudly.
Of course, we can’t leave football out of the chemical equation. Bads was also part of a football team in Baguio. The team was initially called the Bad Boys (coincidence?) and then later Baguio Tigers when they joined the Alaska Cup because the organizer didn’t like the name. Speaking of the popular Alaska Cup, they traveled to Manila for the 2005 tournament wearing cheap uniforms and no sponsors. They arrived at the Alabang Country Club at 2:00 a.m., hours before their first match, because they weren’t even sure they were at the right place. “We saw different people. Ignorante kami,” recalls Bads. That might have been the case, but they ended up beating team after team and eventually entered the semis against Kaya FC. “We were the talk of the tournament. They wondered where we came from!” Although they lost to Kaya, they went back to Baguio beaming with pride.
The following year, they returned to Manila for the Alaska Cup and ended up beating team after team again, only this time, they emerged as the champions. In 2007, they did it again. In both years, his brother Izo was MVP. With all the history between him and his team, Bads considers Baguio Tigers one of the best teams in terms of brotherhood, cohesiveness, friendship, and football. That said, let’s not forget that Bads has also been winning the Alaska Cup with Global FC!
From Baguio to Manila
Besides participating in his first Alaska Cup, 2005 was also the year that Bads moved to Manila. He started working at the Saudi Embassy as a Health Office Coordinator, assisting Saudi citizens traveling to the Philippines for treatment. When the office closed, Dr. Bads decided to start a recruitment agency after a former client suggested the idea. He now sends workers to Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries. Now who’s the boss?
As usual, wherever Bads goes, football isn’t too far behind. Armand del Rosario invited Bads to play for Kaya FC for a friendly against Manila All Japan and that’s where his stint with Kaya started. He is actually good friends with Aly, Anton, and Armand, who still play for Kaya FC.
It was during this time with Kaya when he got the nickname “Badsy” from a teammate. “I like Bads with a Y,” he admits. In 2009, Bads, together with Izo, Misagh, and Val, left the team and joined Global FC.
I asked what made him decide to play for Global: “I found Global more as a family. A team and family at the same time,” answers Bads. I couldn’t agree more! Any orphan would find a home in Global FC.
Like magic, there was something that just drew him in. In fact, when asked about his best friends on the team, Bads started naming every one of them until he concluded with “all players.” Exactly!
According to Graeme
The coach–captain relationship is always extraordinary. It’s professional in nature, one built on trust, but also so much like a relationship between a father and his son. Thanks to his impeccable timing, I was able to sit down with Global FC’s one and only Coach Graeme MacKinnon before he left, and he had plenty to say about Bads.
It was a rainy day when Coach Graeme first met Bads. “It was a practice session in the Magallanes basketball court,” recalls the coach, “and I saw the respect of the players to Bads. It was two-way; Bads respected them and the players respected him.” I think that it was comforting for him as the new coach to witness that kind of respect already present within the team. “Bads thought before he answered and his answers were truthful because he wanted to help the team. He gave honest answers about the players; what they can do and can’t do. He wanted a smooth transition.” I’m sure any new coach would want the exact same treatment from the captain. Coach summed up his first impression of Bads with: “He was for the team. Not about him but the team. And you can tell that.”
I, for one, can testify that Coach and Bads have had a good working relationship from day one. “We just clicked,” admits Coach Graeme. As captain, Bads liaises between all the players and the coach and he has done his job well enough for Coach to say that he looked to him for support: “Anything I needed to know from the players, I get from someone I trust and that’s Bads,” explains Coach. The word trust is the lifeline of this relationship. Coach said he could tell that Bads kept that trust even when he wasn’t part of the starting 11 and was dropped as captain. He accepted the challenge. “Accept criticism and come back better. That is the measure of a man,” Coach Graeme said. He was referring to Bads, but that sure is good advice for any player as well.
Kicking football back into the conversation, I asked Coach Graeme what Bads’ strengths on the pitch were. As spectators, we can sometimes identify players’ strengths and weaknesses, but nothing compares to a coach’s perspective. According to Coach Graeme, “Bads doesn’t stand out with fancy footwork, but he’s a blue-collar worker. He does the job without being flashy…. You can depend on him.” A defensive midfielder is a workhorse, and Bads matches the job description seamlessly. While we can’t deny the fact that Bads isn’t getting any younger, you can still see that as he gets older, experience teaches him to make adjustments and read the game much better. “The quality of his game hasn’t dropped. He makes adjustments and stays at top level,” says the coach.
As I was about to end our spur-of-the-moment interview, I asked Coach what he would want the fans of Bads to know about him. (Of course, his answers had to be revealing; I have to live up to this article’s title after all!) Coach Graeme warms up with, “Whenever there’s practice, he texts the players, the coach, and Dan. After practice, he sends out a text of encouragement to the players.”
Coach saw that I was dissatisfied with his revelation—I knew that already!—so he tried again. “He’s a chameleon. There are so many sides of him that’s really interesting. He can simulate in the community. He is a cool dude. Persona off the field is not of a football but of a model. He can cook.” I guess that explains why his motto in life is “Girls like the guy who dresses and looks well.” And there you have it, according to Graeme!
Bads never fails to surprise people with his fluent Tagalog. The first time I heard him speak Tagalog was when he told me, “Na-miss kita.” I honestly freaked out inside and had to make sure that it was Bads and not an impostor who greeted me. I had to know who taught him to speak the language so well: “I’m makulit. I love to learn. Through classmates, friends, teammates, I learned Tagalog and Ilocano, the language of Baguio.” In addition, he also speaks Arabic and English. For someone who can read the game well, it’s no shocker that he is quite the fast learner. He is undoubtedly smart. “I’m a bad boy, but in school, I’m good. I was always top one or top two. My high school average was 94.8. Math was my favorite subject and I was exempted in algebra in college,” recounts Bads.
Message to Fans
Bads may be a little cheesy once in a while, but his love for football is genuine and contagious. “Football is my first wife and my first love,” reveals Bads. And we all know what they say about a first love: It never dies! If there’s one thing he would want to say to fans, it would be this:
Keep supporting Global FC for the love of Global, not because we have a certain player in the team. Players will go someday but the club will stay forever. Global FC, above all!
Misagh Bahadoran may be deemed Global FC’s friendliest player, but Bads is definitely a contender. With his fluent Tagalog and English, not to mention how smart he is, Bads can win your heart in a way you would have never imagined. I think Bads just gave “bad boy” a new definition.