57-year-old Franco Pala is from Capoterra, a town in Sardinia, Italy. Six years ago, he was approached with a major career opportunity: to become the official coach driver of Italian football club Cagliari. With the World Cup underway and football fever running high, Franco Pala describes his last six years.
My adventure began six years ago. From the moment I was approached by Matteo Baire, the Managing Director of Tour Baire, the transport company that I work for, to become the official driver of Cagliari, I knew it was going to be a very special but demanding challenge.
Cagliari is a historic Italian football team founded in 1920. They undoubtedly occupy a unique place in people’s hearts and are a special customer. Beyond professionalism, the team requires confidentiality and availability.
Driving a beautiful state-of-the-art bus packed with the latest technology is an absolute pleasure. But nothing tops driving the biggest team from Sardinia.
The ride needs to be smooth and relaxing. This means that you have to anticipate situations and dangers to avoid any swerving or sudden acceleration and braking.
The centre of attention
Being a driver today is different than ten years ago. But I am convinced that continuously working on your driving skills and safety performance will open new doors. That’s what happened to me. And after six years, my job still fills me with joy. When I’m driving the bus, I somewhat feel like I’m the centre of attention. It’s very thrilling.
It’s a major responsibility being the driver of a professional football team like Cagliari. But it’s worth it. It’s extremely rewarding.
Tour Baire is a member of Italian transport organisation and IRU member ANAV. Founded in 1950, it was the first private bus company to manage a regular service in Cagliari, Sardinia. The company is a partner of Cagliari, a partnership that is renewed annually, confirming the winning combination of passenger road transport and sport.
This article is part of a three-part series profiling professional football teams’ coach drivers. In the first article, Jose Angel Cueto Lopez, who was the driver of Spanish side Real Racing Club de Santander for over 35 years, shares some of his fondest memories.
Our latest report on the passenger sector forecasts that Europe could have a very serious shortage of bus and coach drivers in the coming years: as much as 50% of total positions could be unfilled in 2026, if no action is taken. Europe has an ageing professional driver population, with 30% of drivers who are currently above 55 retiring by 2026, while only 2% are below 25 years of age.