By Cherri Gregg
DOYLESTOWN, Pa. (CBS) — A Bucks County sixth grader is getting national attention over her request to resume playing Catholic Youth Organization football next season.
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s CYO rules says football is for boys only. But the 11-year-old girl’s campaign is making them rethink that rule.
Caroline Pla (#10 in photo) began playing football at age five. Two years ago, she joined the Romans, a CYO team at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Doylestown.
Last season, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia caught wind of Caroline’s presence on the team and told her it violated CYO policy.
“It’s biased, it’s sexist, it’s discrimination,” says Caroline’s mom, Seal Pla. Seal started a petition on the web site change.org that’s been signed more than 100,000 people from all over the world. She says her daughter should be allowed to play.
“She’s a smart player,” says Seal Pla. “She knows in high school those boys are going to have 100 pounds on her. She’s not looking to go professional. She just wants to play grade-school football.”
Pla says girls in other school districts and CYO clubs can play football, so this fight is on behalf of all girls within the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
“At this age kids should have the opportunity to play. They should not be shut out because they’re girls,” she says.
Archdiocese spokesman Kenneth Gavin says the CYO designated football as “boys only” to ensure safety and appropriateness on the field. He says a panel of coaches, parents, and experts will meet to determine to whether to alter the rule.
But Seal Pla says she’s skeptical.
“They are just trying different angles to get girls off the field. When the boys angle didn’t work, they went to safety. When that doesn’t work, they’ll go to inappropriateness on the field. It’s a very hard nut to crack. It’s the good old boys club.”
The archdiocese is expected to make a decision by mid-March.