And 8-year-old girl from Omaha, Nebraska, was banned from a girls soccer game because the opposing team insisted she was a boy, Buzzfeed is reporting.
Mili Hernandez has always worn her hair short — that’s just how she likes it, she says.
“When my hair starts to grow I put it short because I’ve always had short hair. I didn’t like my hair long.”
Her short hair had never been an issue for her before Saturday; she was allowed to play on an all-girls team, no questions asked. In fact, she’s so good, says WOWT (Omaha), that even though she’s 8, she plays on a team with 11-year-olds: Azzuri Cachorros. Her dad, Gerardo Hernandez, beams with pride at his daughter’s accomplishments.
“It’s what she likes. It’s what she always wants to do – play soccer.”
Everything went sour for Mili and her team on Sunday at a tournament in Springfield, in suburban Omaha. Mili led her team to two victories on Saturday at the Springfield Soccer Club girls tournament. However, before the final game on Sunday, Mili’s coach was told that the entire team had been disqualified. The reason: Mili is actually a boy, and having a boy on a girl’s team violates the rules.
— Brandon Scott (@BrandonWOWT) June 6, 2017
Gerardo says the decision hit Mili hard.
“She was crying after they told us… They made her cry.”
Of course, lacking a driver’s license or birth certificate, it’s impossible to convince someone else that a child is a boy or a girl. Gerardo tried to show officials Mili’s insurance card to prove she is a girl, but they didn’t buy it.
“They just said that the president who runs the whole tournament said she was a boy and that was final, there was nothing else that could be done about it.”
— J Burst (@BurstUpdates) June 7, 2017
In a statement, the Springfield Soccer Association blamed the issue on a typo, saying that a form had misidentified her as a male. Mili’s family isn’t buying that excuse, considering that she’d been playing for an all-girls team.
The Nebraska State Soccer Association, which governs youth soccer in Nebraska but doesn’t actually manage the tournament from which Mili was disqualified, said in a statement that they are reviewing policies to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again.
“Nebraska State Soccer would never disqualify a player from participating on a girls’ team based on appearance… [We] are disappointed that a player was denied the opportunity to play.”
Ever since Mili’s story broke, soccer stars are coming to her defense. Mia Hamm, who famously helped the U.S. Women’s National Team win the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 1999, invited Mili to her soccer camp.
Hey Mili, we would love to host you at one of our camps @TeamFirstSA. Be you!
— Mia Hamm (@MiaHamm) June 5, 2017
Similarly, Abby Wambach, who has also played on championship-winning women’s teams, posted an emotional video on Instagram in support of Mili.
“Dear Mili Hernandez, you are amazing in every way. Thank you for teaching us how to be brave and shining a light on something so hurtful.”
Now that the incident is behind her, Mili is looking forward to continuing her career as a soccer player. In fact, Mili’s 15-year-old brother, Cruz Hernandez, says that Mili even wrote down her career goals.
“I am college bound. I will become a soccer player. Milagros (“Miracles”).”
[Featured Image by ColorBlind+Images+LLC/ThinkStock]