11-year-old girl kicked off Catholic Youth Organization football team

January 7, 2013 11:01:34 AM PST
The Philadelphia Archdiocese has another controversy on its hands. The issue involves an 11-year-old Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) football player who happens to be a girl.

"At first, everybody was like 'whoa there's a girl,' but then they accepted me," Caroline Pla said.

The 110 pound, 5'3 Doylestown 6th grader has been putting on football jerseys and playing the game since she was 5.

The past two seasons, Caroline's been playing with the Romans, part of Our Lady of Mount Carmel CYO in Bucks County.

"If I feel I want to stop, I will just stop, but as of now I want to keep going if I can," Caroline said.

But a few weeks ago, the all-star offensive guard was told she wouldn't have another season after the Archdiocese of Philadelphia enforced its 'boys only' policy when it comes to football.

"It's not just a safety issue for girls; it could be a safety issue for anybody. As long as we know how to play and play right," Caroline said.

Caroline's parents, George and Seal Pla, say their daughter's teammates are behind her and the worldwide support has been tremendous with an online petition reaching more than 7,000 signatures.

"She really wants the rule changed, not just for herself, but for the girls who have come up to her and said I'm going to play football," Caroline's mother Seal said.

The Archdiocese has reportedly said the policy is being reviewed, but Caroline's father George doesn't believe there are plans to change what he calls an archaic and discriminatory rule.

"The decision whether or not you put a child on a football field or any other field should be up to the parent and the coach, and the assessment of the kid's ability should be done objectively," George said.

While Caroline continues her fight to get back on the field, her mother says her spirit has been amazing.

"She's determined and she's positive. She's had a great experience and she really wants other girls to have that experience as well," Seal said.

In a statement, the Archdiocese said:

"There are policies in place governing CYO sports. CYO football is a full contact sport designated for boys. There has been some perceived ambiguity in the policy regarding this point. It is currently being reviewed and will be addressed moving forward to provide complete clarity."