Anouk Denton: The rising star of women's football who's thinking beyond the pitch


Even as a child Anouk Denton was inquisitive about her future, but the 19-year-old was introduced to football fortuitously and her interest grew organically from there.

Born in St Albans, where her family still reside, her childhood consisted of days watching her father playing football from the sidelines until she was old enough to start kicking the ball around herself. Two generations – or three Denton’s including her brother – and all protecting the back line with tough tackles and positively moving the ball forward with a fierce approach. 

“I grew up wanting to play in the same position as my dad and then my brother, it’s the position that we all have in common and share valuable lessons in,” she says, “also Lucy Bronze plays at the back and she’s a huge inspiration to me.” 

She tells me that when she was a child, Lucy would sometimes go down to her training sessions; a young 19-year-old at the time with a whole world ahead of her. “Seeing her play at this level now and become one of the best women footballers is incredible and so inspiring,” says Denton.

For Anouk Denton, it was only ever football. “When I was younger I was always very athletic. I used to play tennis and would love a game of rounders at school, but it was when we got coached in school that I realised football was the game for me.” 

Her first real introduction to playing the game alongside other women was at a local grassroots team, St Albans City, where they were regularly coached by people involved in the game. This saw her learning from the best and after showing unique talent and strong leadership skills on the pitch, she was approached by Arsenal women and joined the academy in 2016. Being around the fabled Meadow Park, Denton trained with renowned graduates like Leah Williamson.

With a mature understanding of the fact that women’s football is still not closely on par with men's football in terms of the pay gap, Denton had already considered her future beyond football. At the age of 17, she left Arsenal for a move to West Ham and then decided to take an adventurous leap to study sports science in the USA. Whilst studying and continuing to improve her skills on the pitch in her two years studying in Louisville, she eventually returned to the UK and signed for West Ham Women, fulfilling her dream of playing in the WSL.

Now a full-time professional footballer and living close to where the team train in London, Denton has set her sights on finishing her degree which will see her fulfil another dream of becoming a physiotherapist when she retires. 

If not a physiotherapist then definitely a baker she tells me. Her favourite hobbies outside of football include drinking coffee and baking cakes with her family. We talk about our favourite cakes and she tells me that hers is pistachio and chocolate, inspired by her mother, a cookery teacher. We laugh about the fact she’s highly mature for her age and we talk about the fact that in the women’s game, this is just how it is. Sadly, women’s football is still at a stage where If you’re not thinking about your future beyond football, then you’re not doing enough. 

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