After Caroline Pla played two football seasons in their league, Philadelphia's Catholic Youth Organization banned the 11-year-old girl from playing the sport as a sixth-grader, according to a FOX 29 News Philadelphia report.
In a prepared statement, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia's associated director of communications, Kenneth A. Gavin, cited a supposed CYO rule that hadn't previously prevented Pla from playing in their league.
"There are policies in place governing CYO sports," wrote Gavin. "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."
Oddly, it's the 11-year-old from Doylestown, Pa., who provided the clarity in this strange saga. "They told me this season that there's a rule in CYO that girls can't play," she said, "that it's only for boys and that I'm not allowed to return after this season."
Pla added: "I felt that they thought I wasn't good enough. It was discrimination, it just didn't feel good to think you're not good enough to play with them."
According to the report, Pla has played football since age 5, including her last two years on Philadelphia CYO's Romans. Her family has filed a petition on Change.org in hopes of overturning the rule. On Tuesday, more than 8,000 supporters had already signed.
"If you can tackle, if you can block, if you can run, it has nothing to do with whether you are a girl, or a boy, or live in a mansion or are homeless or the color of your skin," Pla's coach, Jim Reichwein, told the news station. "Football the game figures it out."
That line might as well have come from Becky "Icebox" O'Shea's coach in the movie Little Giants, but the quote of the story comes from Pla's neighbor and teammate Jake Kueny: "She is really good. She can kick my butt sometimes, and I can kick her's sometimes."
- Sports & Recreation
- American Football
- Catholic Youth Organization