Executive Board of Directors
NLS Operating Board and
More about our Co-Founders and staff
Rafik Kechrid, President
Coming from a multicultural background, Rafik is a bright and innovative self-starter with an eye for details. Rafik holds a Master’s degree in Information Systems and Business Technology Administration from The University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
Rafik worked as an Analyst for the Business and Data Analysis department within couple worldwide companies ranked "Best Places to Work for” in Baltimore. He has also worked on start-up projects where he led and managed diverse teams. Prior to working on start-ups, he worked with other worldwide companies and has gained expertise in leadership, business development, marketing and finance.
Native Tunisian, Rafik played youth professional soccer throughout his childhood in the Northern African. Former member of one of the Best African Youth system of Esperance Sportive de Tunis, Rafik participated in pre-season tournaments involving some of the legendary European youth teams such as AC Milan, and Marseille.
Unfortunately, Rafik had to go through a surgery that did not let him advance further in the sport of soccer as a player. With an everlasting passion for the game, Rafik switched gears and has been involved in the growth and development of youth soccer in the DC/MD/VA area. Rafik also works to create meaningful gateways and relationships between the United States, North Africa, and European soccer communities at both youth and professional levels. Rafik is now coaching at the Community College of Baltimore County, Catonsville (D1 junior college).
Daniel Bulls, Vice President
Daniel is a Maryland native with a wealth of experience in the sport of soccer. Before reaching the age of 23, Bulls played soccer in several different countries around the world including England, Italy, Sweden, Holland, Brazil, Senegal, Belgium, Trinidad, and Cameroon. His knowledge of the game draws from elements from all of these different soccer cultures.
As a youth, Daniel spent time living in Brazil, playing with the prestigious Santos F.C. u-17 team. Santos F.C. is best known for producing the likes of Pele, Robinho, and the young starlet Neymar.
Daniel returned to the U.S. to pursue an education. He went on to play four years of college soccer at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, while studying Media and Communications and American Studies. Under the guidance of Baltimore soccer legend Pete Caringi, Daniel captained the NCAA Division I program his Junior and Senior seasons. In 2009, Daniel began his professional career by signing in the USL. In 2010, Bulls signed for the TT pro league champions, B Mobile Joe Public F.C. (Trinidad) who played in the CONCACAF Champions League. Since returning to the U.S., Daniel has took on a passion in American youth soccer development on both the girls and boys sides. His work and studies extend in all levels of player development. From grassroots to the college levels, Daniel hopes to aid in the continued growth of soccer in the United States with a particular interest in the educational side of the game.
Talel Bouaben, International Consultant
Native Tunisian, Talel pursued his entire education at the French school in Tunis, where he got his baccalaureate in 2005. In parallel, Talel was a professional football player in the Tunisian first division.
Due to two consecutive ACLs at both knees, Talel had to give up his football career and devoted all his time to studies where he enrolled at the University of Sport in Tunisia. In 2011, he got his degree in football training (highest degree) with excellence as he was one of the top in his class. In 2013, he earnt his Masters in Physical Preparation with a speed and agility Speciality.
Talel is currently writing his first scientific article in his Specialty. In 2012, he joined the Technical staff of one of the Most Prestigious African Club, Esperance of Tunis as a physical trainer for the under 21 Team. During his spell, Talel has won two Tunisian Championships so far. Talel and his current team also participated in international tournaments, notably in France and Qatar. Every year Talel is also a special guest of Aspire Academy conventions.
Brett Blacker, Team Management
Brett Blacker is a Maryland native that has lived most of his life in Southern Anne Arundel County. He is married and has raised 4 children, all whom have played soccer at various levels. His younger son, a former Ajax player under Coach Bulls, is a college graduate who started Right Back for Shepherd University. His oldest son’s coach, got Brett back into the game as an assistant coach after playing High School soccer at Southern in the early 1980s. Brett has been involved in various levels of soccer, coaching, running the Clinic program for the local club as well as the County soccer commissioner thru the past 16 years. He has coached at both the Middle School and High School level as well as an assistant for NLS. By day, Brett is a Technical Manager for the Space Telescope Science Institute, where he manages the day to day activities for the Hubble Space Telescope’s Science Peer Review Process. The cyclical nature of the job allows him the flexibility to be the Head Varsity Boys Coach for his Alma Mater, Southern High School. In the evenings he turns his attention to various NLS roles.