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Published 18 April 2024 5 min read
England Para Teams

John Tapia-Owens named as new England Para coach

Written by:

Frank Smith

The newly-appointed head coach of England men's partially-sighted team discusses his new role


‘To represent your national team at any level or at any stage is a real honour and is something I have dreamed of ever since I was a young boy wearing my different England shirts’.

Those are the words of the new England men's partially sighted team head coach, John Tapia-Owens. 

The 33 year old said he was ‘really excited and overwhelmed’ after taking charge of the Para Lions earlier this month, adding ‘to have the chance to wear the Three Lions is a real honour’. 

Tapia-Owens’ journey to leading an England team has been a little different to most of our other head coaches. 

Born in Malaga to a Spanish father and English mother – with many referring to him as Juan rather than John – he moved to Manchester at the age of three. 

Nine years in the north was followed by another spell in Spain, this time in Granada, where his love for Futsal – the sport the England PS team play – really grew. 

John is an experienced Futsal coach, having learned the game during his time living in Spain
John is an experienced Futsal coach, having learned the game during his time living in Spain

He returned to the UK once more at 19 to attend Cardiff University, where the goalkeeper studied architecture and featured in the Futsal Champions League for their team, as well as for Cardiff City.

After spells of living in Oxford and Dubai following graduation, working as a sports venue designer, Tapia-Owens settled in London and started playing for ProFutsal London, who would later become Bloomsbury Futsal.

Tapia-Owens had coached while at Cardiff University but when injury a year into his time at Bloomsbury ruled him out of playing, his focus turned to pursuing coaching on a full-time basis.

There were spells with Oxford United as academy goalkeeper coach and as Maidenhead United’s U16s manager alongside his roles leading the senior Futsal programme at the University of Hertfordshire and as senior programme lead for Bloomsbury.

Tapia-Owens became one of the most successful Futsal coaches in the country during his six years at Bloomsbury, winning the FA National Futsal Series, FA National Futsal Cup and developing a style of play which was attacking both on and off the ball.

18 Apr 2024 0:49

Partially sighted football explained

Learn a little more about the format which the Para Lions' partially sighted team play

He also guided the University of Hertfordshire to their first-ever University National Championship in 2023, became involved with the FA last summer when he did some tutoring and has now been named head coach of England PS, replacing Para Lions legend Steve Daley, who will continue in his crucial role as the FA’s Para talent manager.

England PS missed out on winning a first IBSA World Championship in the cruellest of fashion last summer when Ukraine scored the winning goal to make it 4-3 with just 22 seconds of extra-time remaining.

And Tapia-Owens is hoping he can help England PS find the small margins needed to secure major trophies.

He said: “I want to build on what is already a good base. The team achieved silver at the last few tournaments so now it's a case of working on those fine margins to turn it into gold.

“I'm here to be successful, try to win gold and push the para and partially sighted programme in the right direction.

“I want to try to develop them as people as well as players, with a real eye on being successful on the court.”

John's spell with Bloomsbury Futsal saw him help the club to multiple titles
John's spell with Bloomsbury Futsal saw him help the club to multiple titles
Tapia-Owens also spoke of the importance of not only securing success for England PS but also growing partially-sighted Futsal as a whole.

He added: “It's really key because the talent pool is quite small at the moment and the para programme is doing a lot of work in trying to grow that in all areas.

“We regularly get four or five boys from the development team into one of the camps we have each month so they know the philosophy we are working from in the senior team.

“I'm really looking forward to working with the different programmes across the country to try to find the next players and the National Emerging Talent Programmes, where when they identify players so we can get them in and have a look at them.”