'Looking Like A Boy' Got This 8-Year-Old Kicked Out Of Soccer — And Praise From Some Of The Game's Biggest Stars

Short hair, don’t care.

Eight-year-old Milagros "Mili" Hernandez was recently disqualified from a Springfield, Neb.,  soccer club's girls' tournament. The reason why? For "looking like a boy" — but things didn't stop there, as her team was also disqualified. Before they took to the field during the last day of the tournament on Sunday, soccer organizers disqualified the entire team under the grounds that Mili was a boy, an assumption officials came to based on Mili's short haircut.

Hernandez was visibly upset and later argued, "Just because I look like a boy doesn't mean I am a boy," according to WOWT 6 News. She added, "They don't have a reason to kick the whole club out."

Mili plays for Omaha's Azzuri Cachorros girls' club team, which is comprised of 11-year-olds. Although it is uncommon for younger players to compete on a team of older peers, Mili is so skillful at playing soccer that she made the team.

"When my hair starts to grow," Mili explained, "I just [cut] it short because I've always had short hair, so I didn't like my hair long."

Mili has since gained the support of Olympic soccer gold medalists Abby Wambach and Mia Hamm. Wambach tweeted, "I won championships with short hair," and followed up with a tweet about getting the number to call the soccer association's president.

Hamm also showed support by tweeting an invitation for Mili to host one of her Team First Soccer Academy camps.

Springfield tournament organizers declined a request for interviews with local news stations, who were told to contact their attorney. These same organizers are currently under investigation by the Nebraska State Soccer Association, which is investigating how and why Hernandez was disqualified. Although there were claims of a misprint in the team's roster that identified Mili as a boy, officials still stand firm in their decision of disqualification, even after Mili's family provided proof of her gender identity via health insurance documents.

The soccer tournament's director, Lanny Burgett, responded to criticism in an interview with WOWT 6 News yesterday, but he didn't have much to say since he said he hadn't turned on a computer or television since the incident. At one point during the interview, Burgett asks, "Can I take a moment to talk to my lawyer really quick?" After speaking to his lawyers, Burgett explains that Mili's gender had nothing to do with the removal of her team, "It was the start of the swapping of players from team to team." Burgett admits to having overlooked some things, and isn't sure he'll do another tournament after this one.

Young girls shouldn't have to justify the reason for sporting a short do. They're allowed to own their confidence. Mili loves soccer, she plays impeccably well for her age, she follows the rules of the game, and that's all that should matter. The way she's handling the situation at such a young age is commendable and empowering, just like other female athletes. Despite her negative experience, Mili told Brandon Scott of WOWT 6 News, "I can't play here, [but] there are other tournaments I can play," and she won't let a minor setback keep her from her love for soccer.

(H/T: WOWT 6 News | New York Times)


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