Abby Wambach reaches out to girl banned from soccer tourney because she looked ‘like a boy’
Mili Hernandez is an 8-year-old girl from Nebraska who loves to play soccer, and she plays well. Oh — she also has short hair.
That haircut was a point of contention recently when organizers of a youth soccer tournament disqualified Mili’s team for having a boy on their squad.
The supposed boy was actually Mili, whose parents say she cried after the team was kicked out of the tournament. But then their story garnered national news interest, and Mili now has some very high-profile supporters.
“I was mad; I never had that problem before. She’s been playing so long in different tournaments,” Gerardo Hernandez, Mili’s father, 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 to tell my girl looks like a boy?”
Gerardo Hernandez also said tournament officials wouldn’t hear him out when he offered to produce 8-year-old Milli’s insurance card as proof of her gender.
Mili’s story eventually gained enough coverage that it caught the eye of Mia Hamm and Abby Wambach, both retired legends for the U.S. Women’s National Team.
Wambach even recorded a heartfelt video message on Instagram in which she thanked Mili for standing up for herself. Wambach called the young player “my new hero” in the video’s caption.
Gerardo Hernandez gold Nebraska news station WOWT that Mili “was in shock” and “crying” after initially being told her team couldn’t play.
Hopefully messages from a couple women’s soccer legends can help her move on from the unfair treatment. It’s not every day someone gets to inspire Abby Wambach.