School bids sad farewell to a much-loved teacher

Anwar Ruiters.

He passed away last week Tuesday after having a heart attack during a school break, playing the game that he loved, football.

The Plainsman takes a look at what made him such a special and remembered figure.

Perhaps someone who knew him best in his capacity as not only a teacher, but the general manager of his school’s under-19 soccer side and a man who had a finger in every sporting pie imaginable, was fellow teacher and assistant coach Romano Petersen.

He recalls the man who went about his business without ever complaining, tackling tasks head-on and making the utmost of sacrifices for the good of the school and the children whose futures he sought to mould by giving them the example many feel they so sorely need.

“There is so much I could say of Anwar Ruiters. He was more than just a teacher and a coach. He was a social worker, a father, a disciplinarian and someone who knew what it meant to go the extra mile.

“There are certain things that characterise him and made him stand out from the rest. He was a quiet guy. He didn’t speak a lot and preferred to talk through action. He wasn’t one for politics but for getting the job done. He always said that he just wanted whatever was best for the pupils.

“He was a patient man and had a high work rate that no other teacher could match. He was all over, outworking even the younger teachers and he really set the bar high.

“He helped with managing and coaching sports sides and was involved with everything from rugby, soccer and cricket and even on the netball court. He also drove the school bus and would stay at sporting events to the very end before dropping pupils off right at their doorsteps.

“Then he would go back to the school, drop off the bus and lock up before he would go home. That’s the kind of dedication he showed,” said Petersen.

With this in mind it is evident that the school has lost a great man and the impact of this loss was felt last week when they hosted a memorial in Ruiters’ honour.

The school hired two buses to transport pupils to Ruiters’ home but they filled so quickly that close to 200 more pupils decided they would walk to make it to his house. This, Petersen, says, was a beautiful display of how much he meant to them and as they lined the streets en route to his home, they celebrated that meaning.

“We started up a five-a-side football tournament during break and this was our very first time trying it out when his heart attack occurred. The teams went down to penalties and Mr Ruiters was the last one to kick for his side.

“Before he took the shot he came up to me and said ‘I need to win this for my team’. He went up to kick, looked at the ball and just collapsed. We took him to the sick bay and the doctors arrived but he was declared dead on the scene soon after.

“As a school we really wanted to honour Mr Ruiters and we had speakers from all different areas that he was involved in at the memorial. Seeing the way the pupils responded was something beautiful and really stood out for me. I have always felt that a person’s funeral really shows what kind of a person they were, and we know that Mr Ruiters was a people’s person and a mentor to these kids,” he said.