All Caroline Pla wants to do is play football, but according to the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO), females are banned from playing the sport. Pla, a Doylestown, Pennsylvania resident, is just 11-years old and has been playing football ever since she was five. When she was in the fifth-grade she joined the Junior Varsity Catholic Youth Organization team, the Romans, in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. She found much success with the Romans while creating strong bonds with the coaches and players. Her success on the field was good enough to get her voted onto the all-star team.
For the past two seasons Pla has been playing CYO football. Coaches, players and teammates were, for the most part, accepting. Unfortunately, after the team’s second game Pla’s parents got a call for the Archdiocese telling them that Pla could no longer play football for CYO because she was a female. This call certainly came to a surprise to the parents and coaches who did not even know there was a female exclusionary rule. The parents were able to convince the Archdiocese to let Pla finish out the season, but come season’s end, she would have to hang up her cleats.
Since the season ended, Pla has reached out to the Archdiocese to see if the rule could be changed. Pla never heard back. Pla is now turning to the internet and started an online petition that has eclipsed 27,000 supporters as she attempts to collect enough signatures to get the CYO to change its discriminative gender rule.
To: Archdiocese of Philadelphia CYO Office, Office of CYO SportsStop Discrimination – Change the CYO Football Rule – Allow Girls to Play. It is one of the lone remaining organizations that discriminate against girls in football. The ability of a girl to be able to participate and compete safely has been proven. Girls are allowed to play Pop Warner football. My daughter has been fortunate enough to be part of a special CYO team the last two years, where she…Stop Discrimination – Change the CYO Football Rule – Allow Girls to Play. It is one of the lone remaining organizations that discriminate against girls in football. The ability of a girl to be able to participate and compete safely has been proven. Girls are allowed to play Pop Warner football. My daughter has been fortunate enough to be part of a special CYO team the last two years, where she got to experience the camaraderie and ultimate team atmosphere of football, while representing our local CYO program. She was physically able to compete, and was a contributer and equal part of the team. According to the rule, she is no longer allowed to continue, as the CYO office looks to enforce this archaic language in their handbook – that football is for boys. The rule, as it stands now, will prevent any girl in the future from participating in and be part of a CYO football team. My daughter wants more than anything that this rule be updated and modernized to reflect the times. Simply change the rule and allow girls to play.
To date, the Philadelphia Archdiocese defends the safety measure stating , “CYO football is a full-contact sport designated for boys.” The Philadelphia Archdiocese is taking an out-dated narrow minded approach to this issue. He could not be more wrong, there are plenty of woman, especially at that age and all the way up to the college ranks, who are more than capable of playing in this male dominated sport.