When she was just eight years old, Mili Hernandez made headlines when she was barred from the finals of a soccer tournament.
It was not because she was disruptive or misbehaving— it was simply because she had a short haircut and “looked like a boy.”
According to Insider, moments before the Azzuri Cachorros Chicas were about to compete at the 2017 Springfield Soccer Club tournament, the coach received some startling news that they were disqualified from the game. Someone had filed a complaint that Hernandez, who wore her hair short, was a boy (cue eye roll).
There was also a misprint on the team’s roster that identified the soccer star as male.
Whomever this Karen was, their complaints were enough to get the whole team booted out of the tournament and effectively ended the Chicas’ season prematurely. Those involved felt like it was judgement of Hernandez’s appearance that led toward the unfair disqualification.
The story was then covered by national news outlets. Teammates also joined in solidarity and chopped off their hair as well, reported by ESPN.
“Just because I look like a boy doesn’t mean I am a boy. They don’t have a reason to kick the whole club out.”Mili Hernandez, 2017
The young soccer player refused to be discouraged by the blatant discrimination, and now, at age 12, Hernandez is one of the best players in her homestate of Nebraska.
She has been recognized and supported by some of the biggest names in sports including Mia Hamm, Abby Wambach and Billie Jean King.
“It was overwhelming for a little bit, but also encouraging for [Mili]. I actually cried that people from that level reached out to my kid to support her. It was an emotional moment.”Gerardo Hernandez, Father
Her determination and will power only made Hernandez a better player, as she sets her sights on becoming nationally-ranked. She currently is a participant in Nebraska’s Olympic Development Program (ODP), a highly selective soccer environment sponsored by US Youth Soccer that works to “identify and provide opportunities for high potential players.”
By the way, she’s still rocking a pixie-cut hairstyle. Hive-five to shutting down the patriarchy and ignoring traditional gender roles.
Lead image: WOWT.