A 14-year-old girl has been banned from playing on her school’s football team because she is a female.
Cece Lucia is an eighth grader at St. Simon Middle School in Indianapolis, In. Last Sunday, she made two successful kicks during the game, and went on to lead the team’s post-game prayer and chant.
Just hours after the game, her coach received a call from the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO), which regulates the league. Because of the CYO’s policy of forbidding girls to participate in “boys’” sports, Lucia would no longer be allowed to play football.
Alternatively, if Lucia was not benched, her team would be forced to forfeit.
As executive director Edward Tinder said, “…our policies are written and revised for an entire program, not one particular sport. She’s not on the roster, she was not weighed in, we had no knowledge until after the fact that she participated in this game and policy clearly states that boys only are eligible for the CYO football team.”
Lucia’s brother, Corey, said that his sister was “devastated” by the organization’s threat, which was based “not on her ability, but because of her gender.”
The Crimson Quarry reports that Lucia’s sister, Madeleine, posted a message to Facebook condemning the organization’s decision, in which she noted, “We are in 2014, it’s about time for a change in our sports world.”
Outrage over the CYO’s decision has not been limited to Lucia’s family; Pat McAfee, punter for the Colts, described the decision as “unbelievable.”
“I think it’s a shame whenever you see a girl who is successful and is good and has a chance to have a bright future in a sport to be cut off from it,” McAfee said.
A petition was started on Thursday to have Lucia reinstated to the eighth-grade football team. It has already gained more than 280 signatures.
Lucia’s family released a statement saying “Cece just loves football and simply wants to kick field goals. We hope this incident can be resolved quickly.”
Following the backlash to the CYO’s decision, Tinder said he would review the 75-year-old policy that bans girls from playing football.
Lucia’s case comes four years after 12-year-old Lindsey Overstreet was banned from being a kicker on the school team at Our Lady of the Greenwood.
At the time, Tinder said that “co-ed involvement would alter the integrity of the sport.”