With late spring winding down and summer officially starting later this month, it's the perfect time of year for outdoor sports across much of the United States. Getting kids out of the house, into the sunshine, and learning some valuable lessons in sportsmanship are something that just about every family can look forward to during the summer — except for one Nebraska girl's family. An 8-year-old girl was allegedly kicked out of her soccer tournament for "looking like a boy," according to WOWT News, a local NBC affiliate in Omaha, Nebraska. Mili Hernandez is pretty much your typical 8-year-old kid: She goes to elementary school and she likes playing soccer. Hernandez is so good at her sport, she plays in the 11-year-old age group on the Azzuri Cachorros team in Omaha.
Hernandez and her team qualified for the Springfield Soccer Club girls tournament final. As they headed to the field on Sunday, however, their team was met with devastating news: They had been disqualified. The soccer club's reason? They thought Hernandez was a boy, because of her short haircut. Even when her father, Gerardo Hernandez, tired to show an insurance card that stated she was a girl, tournament organizers refused to believe him. Representatives for the Springfield Soccer Club did not immediately respond to Romper's request for comment.
"Just because I look like a boy doesn't mean I am a boy," Hernandez told WOWT News, adding, "They don't have a reason to kick the whole club out." Hernandez's father told the news station that the tournament directors decision made her cry, but didn't say how her other teammates or her coach reacted to the disqualification. Hernandez's older brother, Cruz, said, "They didn't want to listen. They said the president made his decision and there wasn't any changing that." Unfortunately for Hernandez, that's the rule: All tournament director decisions are final, according to the Ray Heimes Springfield Invitational official rules.
But there's absolutely nothing in the tournament rules about disqualifications on the basis of how someone's gender appears. The Nebraska State Soccer Association, under which Sunday's tournament operated, requires that team members must provide proof of legal name, age, and gender. While the tournament director was correct in denying Hernandez's insurance card as proof of gender — it's not one of the eligible verification documents listed in the Nebraska State Soccer Association rules — the director was way off base to assume that a short haircut instantly equals "boy."
Not only that, the assumption is also a slap in the face to the Azzuri Cachorros team coach — because it says the coach didn't do their due diligence to ensure that all female members of the team were in fact, female. It was a seriously bad judgment call that the director decided to stand behind, no matter how wrong.
For Hernandez, however, she's not letting this upsetting encounter stop her from playing the sport she loves: "There's other tournaments that I can play." Hopefully those other tournaments will have far more reasonable individuals officiating the game.