Milagros “Mili” Hernandez, an 8-year-old girl, saw her team disqualified from a soccer tournament after officials thought her short haircut meant she was a boy. A natural talent who’s been playing soccer since age 5, Mili was promoted to the Azzurri Achurros, an all-girl team of 11-year-olds in her home town of Omaha, Nebraska. After winning two out of three games at a tournament last weekend, however, the team was abruptly told it had been disqualified for one of the final games … for having a boy on the team. “I was mad; I never had that problem before. She’s been playing so long in different tournaments,” Gerardo Hernandez, her father, told The Washington Post. “I don’t want no problems with nobody, but that wasn’t the right way to treat people. Why they want to tell my girl looks like a boy?”
Even though Gerardo had Mili’s health insurance card, which clearly denotes her gender, tournament officials declined to even consider looking at the document. Mili cried when she realized she wouldn’t be allowed to play, feeling “like she let her whole team down,” according to her brother. But after her story made headlines, she received some support in high places. Mia Hamm, two-time Olympic gold medalist and co-owner of the Los Angeles Football Club, invited her to a Team First Soccer Academy camp. Soccer star Abby Wambach tweeted her support, saying, “Mili, don’t EVER let anyone tell you that you aren’t perfect just as you are. i won championships with short hair.” And in a video posted on Instagram, the soccer legend told Mili, “You’re a natural-born leader, honey, and I’m so proud of you.” For more on the story, watch the video below.
Read the full story at The Washington Post.