Bardin Recognized for “Play for Equal Pay” as Oracle NetSuite Open Reaches Parity

[Above: Mika Bardin (r) and Tournament Director John Nimick]

The 2019 Oracle NetSuite Open marked the tournament’s fifth year of staging a women’s division and first year of reaching the milestone of prize money parity across a record prize purse of $242,000. Mika Bardin, a top level junior player and an equal pay advocate, was recognized on court Saturday night out of appreciation for her campaign ‘Play for Equal Pay’ and role in funding the inaugural women’s division in 2015.

In 2015, Bardin was nine years old and a passionate squash player in the Bay Area. After attending what was then the NetSuite Open, which began as a men’s division in the tournament’s first five years, Bardin was inspired to pursue the creation of a women’s division to attract the world’s best female players. The nine-year-old started a gofundme page and after recruiting family, friends and squash fans—including tournament founder Evan Goldberg—Bardin was able to raise 80% of the inaugural $25,000 prize purse. That year, Team USA’s Amanda Sobhy captured the inaugural NetSuite Open women’s title. The women’s prize fund has continued to rise year on year, and has now achieved full parity for the first time five years after the creation of the women’s division.

Tournament Director John Nimick praised Bardin before presenting her with a special plaque of recognition on court.

“Mika, this year the Oracle NetSuite Open reached parity in prize money—the men and women are being paid equally,” Nimick said. “We just saw a terrific match between Camille and Tesni, they’re representative of the fact that we attracted nine out of the world’s top ten players this year. This plaque speaks for itself: In grateful recognition of Mika Bardin for her determination and passion for the creation of a women’s division in September of 2015. ‘Play for Equal Pay’ was her expression, achieved in September 2019.”

Bardin, now fourteen years old and the U15 girls’ national champion, addressed the crowd and thanked some of the key figures that made the vision of prize money parity a reality.

“I’m amazed that so many people have worked so tirelessly for the past four years to achieve equal pay for women and how that has now become a reality,” Bardin said. “’Play for equal pay’ is not a dream, it’s a vision. Thanks to visionaries like Evan Goldberg, someone who has done so much to promote and advance the sport of squash for both men and women, boys and girls, equally. And John Nimick, who has devoted his life to squash, first playing as a champion himself, and now he champions the sport. Melissa Winstanley and her constant drive to elevate the sport of squash and gender equality. And Oracle NetSuite, a company that recognized that in order to elevate squash as a sport, we need to break barriers to reach equality. This award may have been given to me tonight, but the truth is that it belongs to everyone who has worked so hard towards this major goal.”

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