Girl Football Player Caroline Pla, 11, Allowed On Team As Philly Catholic League Reverses Decision

03/15/2013 02:07 pm ET
  • Ron Dicker General Assignment Reporter, The Huffington Post

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia ran a reverse Thursday, allowing an 11-year-old girl to play Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) tackle football next season.

Caroline Pla hollered and jumped when her mother told her the news as she walked home from school, CNN reported after the decision was handed down.

At the end of last season, the archdiocese had ruled that Pla, an all-star guard and defensive end, could no longer play. Pla and her family then publicly campaigned to have the decision overturned. Her mother created a petition that received tens of thousands of signatures; Pla appeared on the "Ellen DeGeneres Show" and wrote a letter to Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput asking for reinstatement.

Chaput initially chided her for involving the media before contacting him, ABC News reported. But he has apparently had a change of heart since first responding to her request.

The archdiocese emphasized in a statement that, while the league is co-ed now, participation rules will be up for review again "in the coming several seasons."

Pla's fight to play has unfolded during a time of unprecedented opportunity for girls in tackle football. Sam Gordon, a 9-year-old from Utah, became a celebrity when a highlight video of her dominating season began circulating. And according to the AP, about 1,600 girls are members of high school teams across the U.S.

Pla, from Doylestown, Pa., is the only girl among 2,500 players in the CYO league, according to CNN.

"I was always taught whatever the boys could do, I could do too," Seal said to ABC.

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