KAMITI MAXIMUM SECURITY PRISON, Kenya (Reuters) - Host nation Russia beat Saudi Arabia 5-0 at the opening match of the World Cup on Thursday, exactly mirroring the scoreline of a match played on a dirt pitch in a jail in Africa thousands of miles away.
As part of their rehabilitation, inmates at Kamiti Maximum Security Prison in rural Kenya are playing their own version of the soccer tournament, with teams named after the countries competing at the real thing.
In Thursday’s opener, watched from the sidelines by inmates in blue and white striped uniforms, “Russia” beat “Saudi Arabia” 5-0 - the same score marked up hours later by the real teams in Moscow.
“The game was good even though I peaked late,” said 23-year-old Byron Otieno, serving life for murder, who scored two of Russia’s five goals.
Joseph Kirai, a volunteer who organised the 7-a-side competition with a local church, said the idea was to use the interest in the real World Cup to bring inmates together for a positive experience.
“Our major goal is to transform the inmate through sports,” Kirai said.
Reporting by Carlos Mureithi; Editing by Maggie Fick and Robin Pomeroy