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Games involving the throwing or kicking of a ball have been played for thousands of years. The ancient Romans played Harpastum, a rugby-like game while the ancient Chinese game of Cuju featured a leather ball being kicked through a small opening not unlike the modern game of soccer. In Canada, various forms of the kicking game would formalize themselves into Rugby, Soccer and Football by the turn of the 20th Century. 

FOOTBALL AND RUGBY 

Football and Rugby in Canada have the same roots in what was known as Rugby Football. The Ontario Rugby Football Union (ORFU) was founded in 1883 to govern amateur play of the sport in the province. While a football club was established in Aurora by 1886 (AURORA BANNER, JULY 30, 1886), and at the High School in 1889 (STOUFFVILLE TRIBUNE, JANUARY 25, 1889), it is not clear whether they were playing Rugby Football or Association Football (Soccer). The games could get quite rough and injuries and even death were not uncommon occurrences. (NEWMARKET ERA, NOVEMBER 1, 1895).  By 1903 the two sports would follow separate paths after the introduction of the Burnside Rules from which modern Canadian football would evolve. Throughout the 20th century football would increase in popularity while rugby participation in Ontario would wane until after WWII. 

SOCCER

In 1896, Aurora joined the York District Football League. The league played Association Football (Soccer) and was comprised of teams from Aurora, Kettleby, King City, Nobleton, Markham, Ellesmere, Woodbridge and Weston. Aurora won their first game against Kettleby and went on to win the championship. By 1914 the game is referred locally as soccer-football in an advertisement in the Aurora Banner for the Old Boys and Girls Re-union (JUNE 5). By this time soccer was also being played at the high school in Aurora. The advent of WWI saw a decline in the game as many of the players were killed overseas. By WWII, with the exception of High School teams, soccer had all but disappeared from Aurora. By the second half of the 20th century soccer would return to the Town. 
THE YORK SIMCOE MINOR FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION 
According to their website, The York Simcoe Minor Football Association was formed under the name The Newmarket Minor Football Association (NMFA) in 1995 in response to a request from the Central Ontario Minor Football League (COMFL) for expansion in its 10th anniversary year. A small group of dedicated parents began with a team of 16 boys and girls in the Tyke Division (10 years and under). The Association today is made up of 7 Executives, 60 Coaches, approximately 600 kids from the ages of 6-9 years old. 
AURORA BARBARIANS RUGBY FOOTBALL CLUB 
A Rugby team in Aurora was established in 1961 as the Aurora Yorks. In 1967 they renamed themselves York County after a move to Newmarket. The name was again changed to the Aurora Rugby Club when the team moved back to Aurora in 1998. In 2002 the club joined with the Toronto Barbarians to form the Aurora Barbarians Rugby Football Club. The Toronto Barbarians first started playing in 1949 in Toronto as the Wanderers RFC. The Club now boasts over 250 junior aged players in programs from under 8 years of age co-ed non-contact rugby to Elite Division Under-18 men’s and women’s provincial leagues. 
AURORA SOCCER CLUB 
The Aurora Soccer Club (ASC) was founded in 1954 to provide senior soccer to town residents. In these early years weekly games took place at Town Park as well as St. Andrew’s College. Ten years into its operations the ASC helped establish the Aurora Minor Soccer Association, now known as Aurora Youth Soccer club (AYSC), which operated as part of the ASC until 1971. 
AURORA YOUTH SOCCER CLUB 
At present, the AYSC has the highest per capita participation in Canada with 4200 combined men and women soccer participants between the ages of 5 and 69 years. The AYSC provides its members with the highest level of soccer development possible and the opportunity to develop friendships in a healthy, inclusive, enjoyable and safe environment while embracing the concepts of good sportsmanship and Fair Play. In their mission to continually improve opportunities for youth in soccer they have introduced the Aurora United Football Club to create a complete player pathway in the years to come – developing and preparing players to play professionally or to be eligible for university scholarships.

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