FOLSOM (CBS13) — Pro soccer players with Sacramento Republic FC went behind bars Tuesday in an effort to break down barriers with a little friendly competition on the soccer field.

Behind the stone walls and barbed wire of Folsom Prison, and under the watchful eye of armed guards, inmates kicked off in a game with Sacramento’s best soccer players.

Members of Republic FC played shoulder to shoulder with some of the toughest criminals in the state.

The idea originated with the Republic’s General Manager, Todd Dunivant.

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“For us it’s important to give them a little bit of humanity, a little bit of freedom, in our small way that we can,” Dunivant said.

Republic forward  Cameron Iwasa said it was a little intimidating because his father is the Sacramento State Police Chief who may have put some of the men behind bars.

“I don’t think any of them know that my dad’s a police officer so as long as that doesn’t come out I think I’ll be fine …on the surface, I think most of these guys are pretty good dudes that had an unfortunate incident or two,” Iwasa said before the game.

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The warden Rich Hill said it was an opportunity for inmates to gain optimism and hope for maybe getting out one day.

“We don’t want them to be alienated from society that they cant in the end come back out to their communities and do something productive with their lives,” Hill said.

The Republic plans on holding these pickup games each month. They said there’s even a waiting list of players who want to play.

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