An 8-year-old Omaha soccer player has snagged high-fives on social media from a pair of former superstars of the game.
Soccer legend Mia Hamm delivered a special tweet Monday to third-grader Mili Hernandez: “Hey Mili, we would love to host you at one of our camps @TeamFirstSA. Be you!”
Mili drew the attention after her all-girl team was disqualified from a soccer tournament over the weekend in Springfield.
Mili’s story also drew a tweet from another soccer star, Abby Wambach.
“Mili, don’t EVER let anyone tell you that you aren’t perfect just as you are. i won championships with short hair.”
Mo Farivari, president of the soccer club Mili plays for, blamed the disqualification on a typo on the team roster listing Mili as a boy.
The situation started when someone — it’s unclear who — told tournament organizers Saturday that a boy was playing on a girls team, said Bill Bianco, attorney for the Southern Sarpy Activities Program, which organized the tournament.
They checked the roster and noticed that Mili, who has short dark hair, was listed as a boy on the team’s regular-season roster and the roster for the tournament, Bianco said.
Though the Sarpy Activities Program doesn’t really think Mili is a boy, Bianco said listing a male player on a girls team roster is a violation of tournament rules.
As a result, the team did not play Sunday in a game that would have sent the winner to the tournament semifinals, Farivari said. The team’s coach said Mili’s squad won two of the three games it played Friday and Saturday.
Gerardo Hernandez, Mili’s dad, said she cried when she found out that her team was disqualified.
“She was ready to play,’’ he said.
He said Mili, who is from Omaha and will be in third grade in the fall, has played soccer for three years. He said her full first name is Milagros and that Mili is a nickname she’s had since she was a baby.
Bianco said soccer clubs provide player names and genders for the rosters and are responsible for noticing any mistakes and fixing them.
Farivari said he did not notice the typo.
In a written statement, the tournament organizer said:
“Tournament officials are committed to the kids that play and if a team has rostering issues the tournament officials are willing to address the issues prior to the start of the tournament to avoid future confusion.”
Bianco said the team Mili plays for also violated tournament rules by having the same players on multiple teams.