Women in Sport

Vicky Ackerley discusses her career journey.

Breaking barriers and nurturing potential

Vicky Ackerley, Head of Residential and Sport Services at the University, stands at the forefront of a dynamic movement within the realm of sport. With a career marked by dedication, advocacy, and a deep-rooted passion for empowering individuals, she embodies the spirit of progress and inclusivity in the sporting world.

In the world of sport, women have long been pioneers, challenging stereotypes and overcoming obstacles to set the stage for future generations. As someone deeply passionate about sport and its transformative power, I have witnessed firsthand the remarkable impact women have had in this arena. From athletes to administrators, coaches to supporters, women continue to play a vital role in shaping the landscape of sports, driving positive change and inspiring countless individuals along the way.

As the Head of Residential and Sport Services at the University, I am fortunate to be in a position where I can champion the cause of women in sport and work towards creating a more inclusive and equitable environment for all. Leading the University’s residential and sport services operations, my aim is to ensure the delivery of quality services that empower students and staff alike to participate and excel in sport and physical activities.

My journey in the world of sports administration began shortly after leaving University. I had always wanted to work in sport and had a part-time job at a local leisure centre in Preston whilst studying for my A Levels. After graduating from The University of Birmingham’s School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, I secured a role as a Recreation Officer at the University, after a short spell as a fitness instructor with Birmingham City Council. After ten years service, and working my way up to Sport Development Manager I moved into the world of National Governing Bodies as the Head of Regional Network for Badminton England. I returned to higher education in 2013 as Head of Sport and Active Lifestyles at The University of Manchester. All of these positions have contributed hugely to my experience and ability and enabled me to hone my skills and develop a deep understanding of the nuances of sports management.

Throughout my career, I have been driven by a strong sense of purpose – to create opportunities and platforms where individuals, regardless of gender, can thrive and achieve their full potential. I firmly believe that sport has the power to instil confidence, encourage teamwork, and nurture leadership skills, qualities that are invaluable both on and off the field.


One of the most rewarding aspects of my role is witnessing the impact of our initiatives on the lives of young women in our community. Whether it’s through providing access to sport, offering mentoring opportunities, or celebrating the achievements of our female athletes, we strive to create an environment where every woman feels empowered to pursue her passion for sport.

But our work is far from over. Despite significant progress in recent years, women in sport still face numerous challenges, including unequal opportunities, pay disparities, and gender stereotypes. As leaders in the field, it is our collective responsibility to address these issues head-on and create a more inclusive and equitable sports culture for future generations.

As someone who has had the privilege of serving on the boards of organisations such as BUCS and Lancashire Sport, and currently as an Independent Non-Executive Director for Rossendale Leisure Trust, I am committed to leveraging my expertise and influence to drive positive change within the industry. By advocating for policies that promote gender equality, investing in initiatives that support female athletes, and amplifying the voices of women in sports, we can create a more diverse and inclusive sporting community where everyone has the opportunity to thrive.