A Nebraska girls’ soccer team is standing up for their short-haired teammate by cutting off their own hair.
Earlier this month, 8-year-old, Mili Hernandez was thrust into the spotlight when her youth soccer team, the Azurri Achurros, was disqualified from a tournament in Omaha.
The team was disqualified from the tournament on complaints that they had a boy on an all-girl's roster after someone confused Mili, who has short hair, for a boy.
The disqualification cost the team the game and the tournament, but that hasn't stopped Mili's teammates from standing by her, the Washington Post reports. At a recent practice, the girls lined up to have their own hair cut short to be like Mili.
"Mili is like family to me. She's part of my team," 10-year-old Erika Ortez said. "So I really felt like it was necessary to support her. Erika cut off over six inches of hair in solidarity.
It's not just her teammates that are supportive of Mili. The avid soccer player is also getting support from some giants of the sport.
Two-time Olympic gold medalist Mia Hamm invited Mili to her Team First Soccer Academy camp while another two-time gold medalist Abby Wambach took to Instagram to share a message of support for Mili.
Dear Mili Hernandez, you are amazing in every way. Thank you for teaching us how to be brave and shining a light on something so hurtful. If you don't know, she is my new hero. Her team was disqualified from a tourney cause they thought she was a boy because of a clerical error that wasn't handled properly. Let's meet soon sister.
The Nebraska State Soccer Association is investigating the incident. Tournament director Lanyard Burgett disputes the idea that the team was disqualified because of Mili's hair and instead claims the team was disqualified for swapping players between teams.
"No tournament staff ever said a child was not allowed to play because they looked like a boy," Burgett said in a statement. "The male player on a female roster was discovered in the middle of working through the player swapping issue and has been incorrectly identified as the reason for dismissal."
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