11-year-old all-star football player Caroline Pla told Thursday that she and other girls will continue to be allowed to play football by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia Catholic Youth Organization
Caroline’s mom’s Change.org petition drew endorsements from Ellen DeGeneres, 9-year-old female football sensation Sam Gordon, and 108,000 other sports fans, parents, and students
PHILADELPHIA, PA – Three months after the mother of 11-year-old Caroline Pla launched a popular Change.org petition demanding that her Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) reverse its decision to kick Caroline off its football team, Archbishop of Philadelphia Charles Chaput has announced that girls will once again be allowed to participate in the league.
Caroline’s mom, Seal Pla, launched her Change.org petition after she and her husband George were told during Caroline’s second season on the team that she could no longer play because football was “for boys.” Seal’s petition drew more than 100,00 signatures from across the country, attracting widespread media coverage and the endorsements of celebrities like Ellen Degeneres and child football sensation Sam Gordon.
“We would like to thank the more than 100,000 people who went to our petition on Change.org to voice their support for letting me play football!” said Caroline. “The Archdiocese has made the right decision to let girls play. I’m not the first girl to play tackle football, and I won’t be the last, so I hope this decision inspires other girls get on the field!”
In a statement announcing the decision, the Archdiocese Communications Director said that the archbishop weighed many factors “including feedback from sources both critical and supportive; the expectations of parents, coaches, and pastors; common current practice, legal circumstances and the CYO policies of dioceses around the country.”
“As a mom, I’m overjoyed,” said Seal, a lifelong Catholic. “Caroline and all of her teammates and coaches couldn’t be more excited about this decision. What felt like the impossible three months ago is now a reality.”
“Issues relating to how the church treats its young people are really important right now, and this is a huge positive step forward,” added Seal. “For Caroline, this was never about just her, but about all girls who want to play the sports they love. It was about allowing kids like Caroline the opportunity to grow physically and spiritually.”
Other archdiocese, like those in Cleveland and nearby Wilmington Delaware, have no gender exclusion like the one held by the Philadelphia Archdiocese.
“Seal Pla’s petition on Change.org on behalf of her daughter’s fight to play football clearly struck a cord people,” said Rev. Ryan Eller, US Campaigns Director at Change.org. “This petition just goes to show how people are using Change.org to take local action on big issues – and win.”
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