I spent several hours at Bangkok’s Klong Prem Central Prison yesterday, where the “World Cup 2010 Behind Bars” kicked off. It was a truly uplifting event.

The tournament is modeled on the actual World Cup, with foreign and Thai inmates competing for a gold colored replica of the World Cup trophy.

In yesterday’s opening match, South Africa played Mexico — just as the two nations will square off later today, in the World Cup’s first game ((More on the real World Cup soon. I am highly excited.)).

There were cheering spectators. There were dancers. There was confetti. There was even a marching band. The prisoners with whom I spoke were all, understandably, delighted with the competition.

Here’s the story I wrote for AFP.

UPDATE: Here’s the full text of the story.