Philly Archbishop to Allow Co-ed Youth Football

Church officials hear local girl's appeal

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    The archbishop of Philadelphia says he'll allow the region's Catholic youth sports league to field co-ed football teams.

    The decision announced Thursday comes in response to a request from an 11-year-old girl who's been playing football since kindergarten.

    Caroline Pla (plah) has played the last two years in a Catholic Youth Organization in suburban Bucks County. She learned during last season that an overlooked boys-only rule would be enforced next year.

    Now, Archbishop Charles Chaput says girls will be able to play football in the coming season. He says the approval is conditional and subject to review.

    She also played for the first two games of 2012 before an opposing team reported her. While she finished the 2012 season, the archdiocese banned the season when it was over.

    Caroline’s family learned that girls weren’t allowed to play CYO football for “safety reasons.” Even though she was chosen for the all-star team, Caroline wasn’t allowed to play in the all-star game because of her ban.

    “When Caroline first showed up for CYO, the boys said, ‘Um, there’s a girl’” said her coach. “She punched them in the mouth and knocked them on their butts in practice and then they treated her like one of them.”

    After learning she was banned from the league, Caroline started a petition on change.org and reached out to the media.

    Pla's mother tells The Associated Press that ``it's a great step for the future of the church.'' She says Caroline is still in school and hasn't yet learned of the decision.