Last week, an all-girls youth football team – the Azzurri Achurros in Omaha, Nebraska – were disqualified from a tournament because someone complained there was a boy in their team. They were referring to eight-year-old Mili Hernandez, who keeps her hair in a short crop so “it doesn’t get in your face”. Mili and her team were disqualified just before the quarter-finals.
But that didn’t deter Mili from playing football and now her friends have shown her the true meaning of being a team. At last Thursday’s practice, Mili’s teammates cut their hair short, too. Some of the girls, like 11-year-old Hailey Valdiva, had never cut their hair before, but thought it important to show Mili their support and solidarity. Ten-year-old Erika Ortez told the Omaha World-Herald: “It was scary, but it made me feel good to support Mili.”
Organisers of the tournament have claimed that Mili was listed as a boy on the season roster, which the president of Mili’s team blames on a clerical error. Yet, the decision to disqualify the team stood, despite Mili’s dad, Gerardo, providing ID to prove she is a girl. “I was mad. I never had that problem before. She’s been playing so long in different tournaments,” Gerardo 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 [sic] to tell my girl looks like a boy?”
The decision to remove Mili’s team from their tournament drew support from former Women's World Cup champion Abby Wambach and current USA soccer star Samantha Mewis.
Mili herself is a girl of few words. When asked how her teammates made her feel, she said, “They care.”