Milagros “Mili” Hernandez is an 8-year-old girl in Omaha who just wants to play soccer. As the Washington Post reports, she's been playing since she was five years old. She's so talented, she was even moved up to play on a more advanced team with the 11 year olds. Until now.
According to the Post, Mili's "biggest concern in life is soccer." She's hoping to play in high school and college, then go on the pros, said her brother. But sexism and outdated gender expectations are keeping Mili from pursuing her dream.
Mili has always had short hair. Apparently, this completely personal choice has raised some alarm among the soccer moms on her team. Mo Farivari, the president of the Azzuri Soccer Club, received a complaint that there was a boy on the team. (Reminder: There wasn't.) Mili's father even attempted to prove his daughter's gender with her insurance card. The team wasn't having it; Mili was kicked off.
“I was mad; I never had that problem before. She’s been playing so long in different tournaments,” Mili's father Gerardo Hernandez told the 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 with the insurance card, the team refused to take Mili back. “They didn’t even want to take it,” said Hernandez. "They told us the thing was decided.”
The family is heartbroken, and the story is causing an uproar on Twitter. Even Layshia Clarendon of the WNBA has reached out in female athlete solidarity. The head coach of the national soccer team Orlando Pride also reached out, inviting Mili to play on the team. We hope Mili is seeing all this support — and so are the teammates who turned their back.
Mili Hernandez, we'd be honored to have you come play with the @ORLPride anytime you want!— Tom Sermanni (@TomSermanni) June 6, 2017