New York Rangers: Mats Zuccarello Finds Hardship and Inspiration in Tanzania 2
STAVANGER, NORWAY - AUGUST 16: Mats Zuccarello after the Team Zuccarello v Team Icebreakers All Star Game at the DNB Arena on August 16, 2017 in Stavanger, Norway. (Photo by Andrew Halseid-Budd/Getty Images)

New York Rangers fans recognize Mats Zuccarello as a hard working player on the ice. Now we get to see another side of who Zuccarello off it.

Mats Zuccarello is a hard working, in your face right wing for the New York Rangers. He plays in one of the biggest cities in the world with everyone watching his every move. But this story has nothing to do with the city of New York, the New York Rangers or its many luxuries. This story takes place over 7,000 miles away in a place named Tanzania.

Mats Zuccarello authored a piece for the Official MSG Blog as he discussed his visit to the country, the extremely hard lives the children encounter there and the inspiration he found himself while he was in Tanzania. Mats Zuccarello is an ambassador for Right to Play, which is an international organization that raises money to improve education for impoverished children. Zuccarello went to Tanzania with Right to Play to see how this organization could help the hardship that the children of this country endure every day.

Over the first few days there, he could not understand what was really going on. He wrote, “I was nervous when I first arrived in Tanzania. I was unsure what I would find. I felt a bit guilty, too, I have so much and am so privileged. But in the week that I was there, other feelings came over me. When we got up into the mountains, I went for a morning run, and I saw the women coming down with large boxes of fruit and vegetables balanced on their heads. I saw how easily they smiled. They seemed at peace. They have just so much, and still, they enjoy life. I felt sorry for their hardships, but I was inspired by them. I admired them. A part of me envied them.”

Zuccarello acknowledged the children live tough lives. The days are long, and since children do not have to go to school, they tend to work long days for very little money. There is no electricity in the village he has visited — like many in this country — so once work is done for the day they cannot return home and read.

Zuccarello arrived at another poor, small village in Tanzania and brought hockey sticks for the children to play with. As he watched them, he felt a humbleness about the situation and decided that next year he will return. It may seem like some small things that Zuccarello has done, but for these people who have little as it is, the gestures were greatly appreciated.

Mats Zuccarello plays a big game in his New York Rangers uniform. The heart of this Ranger played a bigger part in Tanzania with its children. The inspiration he felt through this trip was a bigger bonus to him. Zuccarello now has that feeling in his body and mind and that will be a good thing for the children of this heart broken area in the years to come.

A graduate of St. John's University class of '91. I have been a fan of the New York Rangers since the days of Peter Puck. Founder of Ranger Proud, the Facebook page that covers all news, notes, pre /post-game stats, and player quotes. I can be reached at