US golf coach buys tiny shop in Sicily hoping to save community in crisis

English coach Federico Alba used to spend his days traveling around the world training golfers, sometimes for “five thousand dollars a day.” But a few months ago he started considering becoming a Sicilian artisan…

US golf coach buys tiny shop in Sicily hoping to save community in crisis

English coach Federico Alba used to spend his days traveling around the world training golfers, sometimes for “five thousand dollars a day.”

But a few months ago he started considering becoming a Sicilian artisan in a one-room shop on the island of Sicily. The farming community there has been heavily affected by the crisis following an economic collapse, and a few years ago, farmers turned to a European Union agricultural scheme that gave them cash for breeding crops that were marketed online to help European farmers in financial difficulty.

Alba, who has coached some of the top golfers in Europe and America and had a stint at Augusta National Golf Club, could not see much of an opportunity in the United States given the economic crisis. So after months of research and thinking about the lifestyle, he took up residence in a tin shack three months ago and decided to seize it. He said he is selling his products online at “one euro a kilo and one euro a pound,” or from two euros for each pound.

“All I know is that I want to live in this tiny shop for as long as I can,” he said, sitting on the porch of his tiny shop, trying to balance the books. “It’s such a special place that is full of life and with a population that is completely unknown to everyone except Italians,” he told Fox News. “I call it: the lost village, because it has no priest, no school or community.”

Federico’s shop and the extra he’s now able to spend as a way to make a better life on the island, all began because he was watching his local farmers in his village going into debt when the few farmers that were bringing in money became afraid to take that risk when few customers came to the market. Then, a professor of ethnomusicology from the University of Rome told him about the initiative in EU, which sought to provide a successful farming community with an economic opportunity from loans and profits.

“He said, ‘Well, I know many Italian farmers who live in the Carpial campi, and I recommend you could help them, and you are really good at coaching,’” he said.

After talking to the farmer, Federico called his local playmate, superstar golfer Sergio Garcia of Spain, whose won the British Open and was playing at Augusta when Federico, asked him what he was doing with his life.

“Sergio responded, ‘Hey I am playing in Argentina with Arnold Palmer,’” Federico said. “I explained the situation, and Sergio said, ‘Then come in and coach me.’ And so that was my new career.”

Sergio told Federico, “I have all the tools to win. I am a great pro; I just need to find the little things and I can do it.”

An actress in Rome saw a photo of Federico working with his wife and friends, then approached him with the idea to host a workshop at a theater in Italy. Federico said he had to get a million bucks to save his shop, and so far he has received 65 euro per kilo of fish from an American fish-processing company. He is receiving a similar amount from another English chef who was thrilled to hear Federico’s story.

“One day, I hope I can deliver back to my village in Sicilia what I gave to my country,” he said.

Author Peter Ford is a Fox News contributor.

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