They were the only all-girls team competing against five teams of boys in the chenda melam event. Though their shoulders ached from carrying the heavy ‘chenda’ for a long time, the students of the Government Model Higher Secondary School for Girls, Pattom, looked confident, bustling with energy and ready to make their presence felt at the ongoing Thiruvananthapuram Sub-District School Kalotsavam here on Thursday.

“We know we are competing against boys, but we are confident that we can do it. We have been practising for a month now and we will give our best,” said A.R. Jincy, who plays the main chenda in the team competing in the Higher Secondary category.

It was not without difficulty that the seven-member team learnt the nuances of playing the chenda and correcting the rhythm. They mastered the art through regular practice and dedication. A genuine interest in the art helped them take up the challenge, though they knew that they would have to face stiff competition from teams of boys.

As he gives them some last minute instructions, their trainer, professional chenda artiste S. Sajeev, boosts their confidence telling them that they are capable of giving the best performance.

“Training them was very different because they can get tired easily. But they were quick to learn and in a very short span of time they were able to learn a few acts,” said Mr. Sajeev.

The students received whole-hearted support from their teachers and the School Principal when they expressed their wish to represent the school in the arts festival, said a teacher.