Mili Hernandez of Springfield, Nebraska, is different from her teammates on Omaha's Azzuri Cachorros girls' club soccer team: The 8-year-old plays on a team for 11-year-olds.
But organizers for the Springfield Soccer Club believed she was different in another way. The girl's team was disqualified from playing in the Springfield Girls Soccer Tournament finals because Mili's short hairstyle led organizers to believe that she was actually a boy.
The team was disqualified before taking the field on June 4, WOWT reports. Mili's family, who is proud of her accomplishments, claims that organizers refused to accept the girl's insurance card as proof that she was female.
“They didn’t want to listen,” said Cruz Hernandez, Mili's brother. “They said the president had made his decision and there wasn’t any changing that.”
Mili's hairstyle has reportedly not affected her this significantly before. According to her family, she loves to play soccer and simply enjoys wearing her hair short.
"It's what she likes," her father, Gerardo Hernandez, said. "It's what she always wants to do -- play soccer."
Mili told WOWT: "When my hair starts to grow, I put it short because I've always had short hair. So I don't like my hair long."
She says what happened to her wasn't fair and that she is "not happy" about it. She was saddened not only for herself, but also for the rest of her team.
"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's father said his daughter didn't take the decision well: "She was crying after they told us; they made her cry."
Despite her setback, Mili's passion for soccer remains undeterred. She made no mention of growing her hair out so she could continue to play for her team.
"There are other tournaments that I can play," she said.
No comments were reported from her teammates or their families.
The Hernandez family has yet to report whether they will be pressing charges.
The Springfield Soccer Club organizers declined an interview with WOWT, directing reporters to their attorney instead.
The organizers said that Mili's family is able to file an appeal with the Nebraska State Soccer Association if they wish to challenge their decision to disqualify her team, notes WAFB.