With an off-weekend for most of the Wisconsin women’s hockey team, it has been an enjoyable past few days for head coach Mark Johnson and his players. While the team is still working hard, practice pace is a little slower, more jokes fly around, players flash smiles on the ice and a general easiness surrounds LaBahn Arena.However, almost 2,000 miles away, select Badgers are playing their absolute hardest for their respective countries as the 2014 Four Nations Cup gets underway. Wednesday night, the United States took on Canada, with five players representing University of Wisconsin. Among the Badgers taking part in the tournament are senior captain Blayre Turnbull and freshman Emily Clark, playing for Canada, along with freshman forward Annie Pankowski, playing for the United States.These players find themselves teammates for most of the year, but will face off against each other in a border battle that always breeds fierce competition. The United States-Canada rivalry has grown extremely fierce in recent years on both the men’s and women’s sides. Canada has bested the United States in the past two Olympic women’s hockey finals, and many American players feel the need to finally win on the international stage. Former Badgers Hilary Knight, Alex Rigsby and Brianna Decker will lead the United States in the tournament.Despite the intensity this rivalry brings, Johnson is not worried that the competition will cause any divide amongst Badgers of Canadian and American heritage.“[The Canadian and American players] have been in camps together, or on the same team, whether they were growing up or at respective colleges like here,” Johnson said. “Once the puck drops and Canada is playing the United States, Clark and Pankowski are going to do things to help their respective teams and if they bump into each other, that’s just part of hockey. When the game is over and they’re flying back they’re teammates again, friends again.”Johnson touched on the strong bond his players have, which he believes a national team game can’t break. Instead of worrying about possible tensions that could arise from such a fierce rivalry, Johnson created a program in which no such rivalry can break the camaraderie. He has no reason to worry, and instead commends his players for their hard work and skills.“That’s the fun part of competing at this level,” Johnson said. “You have the chance to play for your country and, uniquely, you get a chance to play against one of your teammates, and it is quite an experience.”Regardless of whichever nation finds victory, the Badgers can only benefit from sending players to compete at the international level. Which could be just the spark the team needs after a slightly disappointing series this past weekend at North Dakota.The Badgers tied 3-3 against UND last Friday and squeaked out a 3-2 win Saturday to finish the series. Leading goal-scorer Brittany Ammerman tallied her fifth and sixth goals of the season and Sarah Nurse scored twice. While many offensive leaders are playing well, one statistic stands out among the rest.The Badgers outshot UND 40-21 Friday and 31-17 Saturday, prompting one to question why each game ended so closely when the Badgers heavily outshot their opponents. As Johnson pointed out, there is a very rational conclusion. With Pankowski, Clark and Turnbull all missing due to the Four Nations Cup, the Badgers were missing some major points and morale leaders on the ice, showing just how invaluable they are to the team.Another point to be taken away, as Johnson explained, is the added depth the Badgers have this year.“Under the circumstances, I thought we played very well,” Johnson said. “We were missing three of our top forwards on Friday, four on Saturday, so we had a gutty effort and came away with a tie and a win. I was very pleased.”The Badgers depth was on display against No. 1o North Dakota, which could mean big things for Wisconsin as the season progresses. When Turnbull, Pankowski and Clark return to Madison with their invaluable experience, Wisconsin’s depth will only increase. The offensive production should follow closely behind.
Ghana captain Asamoah Gyan has been described as a ‘true statesman’ following the commissioning of a Water Pump House Project in Wenchi sponsored by his foundation.The water facility is one of many other social intervention programs undertaken by the Asamoah Gyan Foundation in Ghana.The project estimated to cost over $50,000 was commissioned on Saturday by the Municipal Chief Executive of Wenchi Alhaji Hakibu Dauda and the Queen Mother Nana Ntoa Semendua.Wenchi township to enjoy regular flow of waterThe new water house pump project is meant to eliminate the current water-rationing system in Wenchi and its environs. The facility, originally constructed in the Busia era as one of two main water pumps serving the people of Wenchi had collapsed for over a decade.The Asamoah Gyan Foundation on the express request of President Asamoah Gyan took over the complete reconstruction of the facility which was commissioned on Saturday.MCE of Wenchi Alhaji Hakibu DaudaThe Black Stars captain came in for massive praise as he was described as a ‘true statesman’ for his direct strategic social interventions to alleviate the plight of several deprived communities. “Asamoah Gyan has shown true statesmanship through the construction of this water project to serve the people of Wenchi, even more so that it is one of many other projects being undertaken by the foundation,” MCE of Wenchi Alhaji Hakibu Dauda said at the ceremony to commission the project.“He is a good example of who a true citizen of the land should be and we must all come together and support his worthy venture.”Asamoah Gyan Foundation funded the Water Pump House Project The full view of the Water Pump House ProjectThe MCE joined by the Wenchi Queen Mother and officials of the Municipality cut the sod to signal the commissioning of the water project amidst a huge cheer of its indigenes accompanied by a 10-minute downpour – widely interpreted as ‘showers of blessings’.Wenchi Queen Mother Nana Ntoa Semendua also chipped in her praise for the Al Ain ace for giving life to her people with the construction of the water facility.“I am very proud of Asamoah Gyan and his team for this vital intervention for our community,” she said.“It is a life saver because we all know that water is life. The Asamoah Gyan Foundation convoy making its way into the Wenchi townshipBaffour Gyan led officials of the Asamoah Gyan Foundation to the durbar“Water has been a major problem for this area – a burden which will be mightily eased with the commissioning of this project. “Asamoah Gyan has always been a trail blazer throughout his life and career as a footballer and has set a new standard with the construction of this project.“I can only ask for God’s blessings for him and urge others to emulate this example.”Arrival of dignitaries to the durbarAsamoah Gyan’s father, George Gyan Baffour revealed at the durbar to commission the project the inspiration behind the construction of the Pump House facility. “My son Asamoah Gyan was here over ten years ago when he saw people – especially women and children trekking a long distance carrying buckets and gallons in search of water,” he recalled.“He [Asamoah Gyan] asked me the reason why and I told him the community had problems with its water pumps and thus not all areas have water flowing through their taps despite the vast water resource here.Presentation made to the people of Wenchi“He then told me that one day he will get this town a water pump and over ten years on we see this facility as the fulfillment to his pledge.”Chief Executive Officer of the Asamoah Gyan Foundation, Samuel Anim Addo urged the committee to take good care of the new facility so it last long enough for them to reap maximum dividends.“This is your property and therefore take very good care of it so that its benefit will reach generations upon generations,” he said.Pleasantries exchanged after the commissioning“Water is one of the thematic areas of our foundation and we are happy to be doing this for the people of Wenchi.”“Asamoah Gyan is blessed and he wants to ensure that his blessings are extended to as many people as possible.”The People of Wenchi in a joyous moodCEO of the Gyan FoundationThe people getting ready for the opening of the pump house