Tuesday, February 17, 2009

At Eastland Mall, soccer venue replaces ice rink

Businessman converts indoor space into what he hopes will become a lure for urban youths.

By Kevin Caston
Posted: Sunday, Feb. 15, 2009

A Charlotte businessman has converted a space inside Eastland Mall into a soccer field. He hopes it will be a lure for urban youths.

On any given day of the week, you're likely to see groups of teenagers hanging out at Eastland Mall.

Most often, they're not shopping but rather looking for something to do. Charlotte businessman Akbar Majeed has launched a new business inside the mall that he hopes will fill their time, expose them to something new and teach them some valuable life skills.

It's soccer, a sport most urban kids ignore.

Majeed has converted the mall's 14,000-square-foot indoor ice-skating rink on the lower level into a soccer field, complete with a plastic surface and two netted goals. His company, Concrete2Green, was launched in the Harlem community of New York City but now is headquartered in Charlotte. Its mission is twofold: to take abandoned fields or large, neglected indoor spaces and turn them into soccer fields, and to lure young African Americans and Latinos to those fields.

“This is a social venture,” said Majeed, Concrete2Green's co-founder. “It's also about revitalizing communities and giving young people something to do.”

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